Neo-Nazis launched new assaults on refugee homes in at least 10 east German cities, police said Saturday. No serious injuries were reported in the overnight attacks, but the violence bolstered calls for tougher laws to fight the unrest.
The violence during the night was a continuation of more than two weeks of concerted attacks on refugee homes by gangs of youths in economically depressed eastern Germany, hit hard by unemployment as its communist-era industries shut down.A crowd of 150 young extremists threw rocks and firebombs at a refugee processing center in Eisen-hutten-stadt, near the Polish border. They were driven back by police, who arrested seven people.
In the northern city of of Greifswald, a kindergarten that was to be used to house some of the refugees seeking asylum in Germany was burned down during the night. Police said they had no suspects.
Firebomb and rock-throwing attacks also were reported in the east German cities of Brandenburg, Koblenz, Luebbenau, Prenzlau, Kremmen, Neustadt, Wernigerode and Gandow-Lenzen. Police said they arrested 11 people in Kremmen.
Such attacks have been common during the past two years, coinciding with a sharp rise in Eastern Europeans, Africans, Asians and Arabs taking advantage of Germany's liberal asylum laws.
But five days of anti-refugee assaults in the northern Baltic port city of Rostock appears to have galvanized the anti-refugee movement in recent weeks.
Germans have staged counter-protests, and officials are pressing for a crackdown on the violence. On Saturday, six state justice ministers all demanded stronger sentencing guidelines and stricter laws that would give them more authority against extremists.
In Koblenz near the city of Hoyerswerda, the scene of vicious race riots last year, somebody threw a firebomb from a passing car at a home for 72 Vietnamese. Police said one room of the home was gutted by fire. No serious injuries were reported.
About 50 leftists clashed with 20 rightists in Chemnitz, and three people were reported hurt.