Merkel.jpg
Photograph: EPA/MICHAEL KAPPELER

Bavaria's interior minister has blamed the presence of an Islamist terrorist cell in Germany on Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door refugee policy, one day after three Islamic State suspects posing as asylum seekers were arrested in the country.

"The glaring security gaps in controlling the massive influx of refugees, especially during the fall of last year, is exacting revenge," Joachim Hermann of Merkel's Bavarian sister party CSU told the Funke media group.

"We know now that Islamic State exploited these vulnerabilities to smuggle attackers to Europe by disguising them as refugees," said Hermann, whose southern German state fell victim to two terrorist attacks in July. Both were carried out by asylum seekers.

The news comes a day after three Syrian men aged 17, 18 and 26 were arrested in refugee homes for coming to Germany to "either execute an existing mission or to stand ready for further instructions" from Islamic State, the federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe said.

All three men are expected to be remanded in custody Wednesday.

The CSU's Hermann is one of a slew of critics of Merkel's decision last year to suspend the vetting of Syrians fleeing the country's long-running civil war, thereby allowing hundreds of thousands of refugees to enter the country in the last four months of 2015.

Merkel has repeatedly emphasized the fact that crimes by a small number of individuals posing as asylum seekers should not lead to blanket suspicion of or discrimination against those legitimately seeking refuge in Germany.

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