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Suspected arson at planned German refugee home

September 21, 2015

German police say there has been a fire at planned refugee accommodation in the southwest of the country. Meanwhile, a Syrian refugee is reportedly being questioned over alleged links to the jihadist group 'IS.'

Fire engines in front of the hall with firefighters extinguishing the blaze. Photo: Rene Engmann/dpa
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Engmann

Police in the southwestern German city of Heilbronn said on Sunday that a fire broke out overnight at a sports hall that was to be used to house refugees in the nearby town of Wertheim.

No one had been in the hall at the time of the fire, but the blaze had made the building structurally unsound and unfit to enter, they said.

They said they suspected the fire had been lit deliberately.

Germany has experienced a number of arson attacks in recent months on buildings that have either housed refugees or were planned to be used for this purpose.

'No more room'

The accommodation in Wertheim had been intended for around 400 refugees, who must now be housed elsewhere.

"No more refugees will come to Wertheim, as there is no additional emergeny accommodation," said Herman Schröder from the state of Baden-Württemberg, where Wertheim is located.

The mayor of Wertheim, Stefan Mikulicz, had earlier warned against allowing more refugees to be housed in the town, where 600 are already accommodated in another shelter.

Mikulicz said people helping with refugees in the town were at the end of their strength.

Police probe jihadist links

A German newspaper has meanwhile reported that police are questioning a Syrian asylum seeker on suspected links with the jihadist group "Islamic State."

The man, who is staying at a refugee home in the northeast region of Brandenburg, had allegedly told others staying at the center that he had fought with "IS" and killed several people, the paper "Welt am Sonntag" said.

Other residents had secretly filmed him making the claims, the report said, leading to the police probe.

A federal police spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny the report.

Some in Germany have expressed fears that Islamist militants could be infiltrating the country amid the current huge influx of refugees, although there has so far been no concrete evidence that this is the case.

tj/sgb (AFP, dpa)

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