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Three arrested after refugee home attack

August 29, 2015

Three people have been arrested after an arson attack on a refugee shelter in the German state of Lower Saxony. A woman and her three children were lucky to escape with their lives.

Asylum-seekers' shelter in Salzhemmendorf Julian Stratenschulte/dpa via AP
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Stratenschulte

The three arrested over the incident were two men aged 24 and 30, and a 23-year-old woman. One man had a history of violence, and the other a police record for theft.

Lower Saxony's premier Stefan Weil told NDR public radio that the trio had confessed to the attack, which occurred around 2 a.m. (00:00 UTC) on Friday morning when a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a former school building now being used as a refugee shelter in the village of Salzhemmendorf.

A 34-year-old woman from Zimbabwe and her three children, who were sleeping in the room next to where the incendiary device landed, remained uninjured, with the fire brigade arriving quickly to extinguish the blaze that broke out. One of the children had normally slept in the room where the fire occurred.

The family was taken to alternative accommodation, where the mother was said to be receiving counseling.

The shelter in Salzhemmendorf, located some 45 kilometers (28 miles) to the south of Lower Saxony's capital, Hanover, is housing 31 asylum seekers from several countries, including Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq.

Premier Weil spoke of the worst racist incident in Lower Saxony in years, describing it as "unbearable and disgraceful."

Germany has seen a spate of attacks on refugee homes in recent months amid a huge influx of asylum-seekers, many of them fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

tj/ng (epd, AFP, dpa)