In one of the worst episodes in nearly two weeks of attacks on foreign refugees, right-wing extremists firebombed a crowded shelter outside Berlin, police said Thursday.
In addition to the firebombing late Wednesday in Ketzin, 10 miles west of Berlin, attackers broke windows at two refugee shelters in the town of Northeim, police said. No injuries were reported.Other attacks on shelters and homes for foreign workers were reported in Erfurt, Oschersleben and Duesseldorf; there were no injuries and only minor damage. In Blankenburg, attackers torched two cars in front of a home for asylum-seekers.
In Cologne, the country's internal security agency confirmed that three men arrested in recent riots against refugees in the northern city of Rostock once belonged to East Germany's secret police.
Vera Wollenberger, a leftist lawmaker from eastern Germany, repeated her long-standing assertion that some members of the once-dreaded Stasi secret police hold "key positions" in right-wing organizations.
Most of the attacks have occurred in economically depressed eastern Germany, where there is deep resentment of the housing and other benefits the government provides for asylum-seekers.
The five days of riots in Rostock started on Aug. 22, and have led to nearly two weeks of anti-refugee violence in eastern Germany.
All of the 44 foreign asylum-seekers fled to safety after the attack in Ketzin, authorities said. The firebombs left the building gutted.
Geert Piorkowski, a spokesman at police headquarters in nearby Potsdam, said two of the attackers were arrested and that one more was being sought. He said Germans living nearby rushed to the scene and denounced the attack.
Germany's mass-circulation Bild newspaper first reported that Stasi agents were involved in the Rostock violence, reviving long-standing speculation about former agents' attempts to exploit the tension in eastern Germany.
The newspaper quoted Erwin Marschewski, a spokesman on domestic affairs for the government coalition in parliament, as saying that the Stasi apparently had plotted the riots in an attempt to bring down democracy.