Overnight arson attacks hit refugee shelters in Berlin and Bavaria | News | DW | 21.08.2015
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Overnight arson attacks hit refugee shelters in Berlin and Bavaria

Police have made arrests in at least one apparent arson attempt against a refugee center in Germany. Recent attacks in two cities apparently targeted asylum seekers

German police on Friday arrested three suspects in an attempted arson attempt in Berlin and are seeking suspects in an apparently unrelated attack in the state of Bavaria.

Police in Berlin say they arrested two men in their 20s and a woman in her 40s involved in the Thursday night attack. The suspects' identities were not released.

A night watchman at the temporary housing unit in Berlin's Marzahn neighborhood saw a group in dark clothing throw burning wood into the compound just before midnight, but a resident was able to extinguish the fire before it did any damage, police said.

"This is the result of constant incitement by neo-Nazis against refugees and their supporters," Manuela Schmidt, a local lawmaker with the Left Party, said in a statement.

Bavarian shelter targeted

In an apparently unrelated incident, firefighters were able to quickly contain a fire at a refugee center in Neustadt an der Waldnaab in Bavaria in the early hours of Friday.

A refugee told police he saw two people jumping out of a ground floor window and a third person in front of the home, all of whom fled. Police said they could not rule out a racist motive but were following all leads.

The 19 residents, who included three children, were not injured and all returned to the former guesthouse which is being used to house asylum-seekers.

Destructive riot over 'torn Koran'

A smashed-up office at the shelter.

Overcrowding may have been a factor in the dispute at the shelter in Suhl, central Germany.

Earlier in the week a riot broke out a refugee center: in the town of Suhl in Thuringia, after an Afghan man enraged fellow refugees by tearing pages out of the Koran.

Windows were smashed, furniture flung out of windows and even dividing walls in the shelter hacked down in the rampage, which lasted several hours.

The unidentified Afghan man was eventually saved by the shelter's guards as well as police, prompting the 50-strong crowd -- identified in local media as mainly Syrian men -- to turn their anger on police in a melee that left 17 people injured.

The refugee house had been above capacity with about 1,700 people in accommodation designed for 1,200. Local officials had reportedly raised concerns about dangerous overcrowding and their inability to cope with rising demand.

Germany 'expects 800,000 new arrivals'

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Wednesday that Germany would be able to accommodate the projected 800,000 refugees it expects this year - more than the entire population of Frankfurt, German's fifth largest city. But then on Thursday, the minister warned that Germany had limits in how many it can absorb in the long term.

Overall, there have been 150 arson or other attacks that damaged or destroyed refugee shelters in the first six months of the year, prompting fears of rising xenophobia.

But a poll by Germany's public broadcaster ZDF released Friday reported that 60 percent of Germans believe their country can cope with the influx, up from 54 percent in July.

jar/tj (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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