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Investigation into Tröglitz asylum attack

April 5, 2015

Questions remained unanswered in the eastern German city of Tröglitz on Easter Sunday following what appeared to be an arson attack on a planned refugee camp. The attack has caused outrage across Europe.

Tröglitz asylum home
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Schmidt

Prosecutors in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt said on Sunday that the investigation would continue in the days ahead. Forensic investigators at the scene of the fire have finished collecting evidence, local police said. It remains unclear, however, who was behind the attack and whether it was racially motivated.

The building caught fire in the early hours of Saturday morning, around 2 a.m. local time (0100 UTC), with the attic suffering the most extensive damage. A married couple was staying in the home at the time of the incident and was narrowly able to escape the flames uninjured, according to police.

The house was due to accommodate 40 asylum seekers who are scheduled to arrive in May. It is currently unknown when it will be habitable again.

Fight against right-wing extremism

"We can't let the fight against right-wing extremism fall by the wayside," German Minister for Families Manuela Schwesig (SPD) said in Sunday's edition of Germany's biggest-selling paper, "Bild."

Speaking to the German newspaper "Die Welt," CDU parliamentary leader Volker Kauder described the incident as an "attack on our constitutional state."

Germany's Migration Commissioner Aydan Özoguz (SPD) also said that the perpetrators need to be shown that "they stand alone with their hatred."

Democracy under threat

Extreme right-wing sentiment towards the impending arrival of asylum seekers has been growing in Tröglitz in recent weeks. At the beginning of March, former Mayor Mark Nierth resigned over increased extreme right-wing animosity in the town.

Saturday's attack , however, was met with outrage not only in Germany, but across Europe. The secretary-general of the Council of Europe, Thorbjoern Jagland, warned that such an incident should set alarm bells ringing across Europe.

"Democracy is increasingly threatened by racist, xenophobic, political and religious extremism," Jagland said.

Unrest in Syria, Iraq and North Africa has fueled an upsurge in the number of asylum seekers in Germany. Over the last two years, the European powerhouse has seen a greater spike in asylum requests than any other EU country, with more 173,000 asylum applications.

According to the German government, the number of hate crimes against refugees also rose in 2014.

ksb/rc (dpa, AFP)