German police break up brawl between right-wing extremists, migrants

German police broke up a brawl between right-wing extremists and asylum seekers overnight to Thursday in the eastern town of Bautzen, highlighting the growing unrest in Germany over the refugee policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Some 80 local men and woman and about 20 asylum seekers clashed in a square in the town centre late Wednesday, a police spokesman said.

The locals were heard shouting that the town belongs to them and chanting the slogan "Wir sind das Volk" ("We are the people"), first coined by anti-Communist demonstrators before the fall of the Berlin Wall but used more recently during anti-immigrant protests.

Police spokesman Thomas Knaup said that some of the asylum seekers threw bottles and other objects at the officers, who responded with mace and batons and erected a barrier to separate the two groups.

The locals divided themselves up into smaller groups and followed the asylum seekers back to their refugee accommodation. Officers sealed off the shelter to prevent further violence and ordered three other refugee homes in the surrounding region to be guarded.

One 18-year-old Moroccan nation required hospital treatment for cuts to his face, police said. When an ambulance arrived at the scene, it was pelted with stones by right-wing extremists and a second one had to be called before he could be taken to hospital.

The 100-strong police operation started at 9 pm local time (1900 GMT) on Wednesday and ended at 2:30 am on Thursday morning.

Bautzen has become the scene of several right-wing protests against refugees in recent months.

In February, an extremist mob cheered at a blazing refugee accommodation in the town and prevented fire fighters from dousing the flames. In March, German President Joachim Gauck was subjected to verbal attacks during a town hall meeting about the refugee crisis.

Opposition to Merkel's open-door refugee policy has reached a fever pitch in Germany, which took in some 1.1 million migrants in 2015.

Last update: Thu, 15/09/2016 - 12:06
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