'Neo-Nazi plot to attack refugee centre with explosives and knives' foiled by police in Germany

Officers found swastikas, guns, weapons and Nazi memorabilia at suspects' homes

Independent, UK/October 23, 2015

By Lizzie Dearden

German police they have foiled a neo-Nazi plot to attack refugee centres with explosives, knives, baseball bats and a gun.

Flags emblazoned with banned swastikas, Nazi magazines and memorabilia from the Third Reich were among the items found at the homes of suspected conspirators in Bavaria.

Police in the historic city of Bamberg suspected a centre for refugees arriving in Germany through the Balkans to be the gang’s target.

Detectives had observed the group of 11 men and two women for more than a year before swooping on Wednesday morning, when they seized illegal firecrackers, a firearm, ammunition and other weapons.

Some of the accused plotters are members of an extremist party called Die Rechte, while others supported the local offshoot of anti-Islam group Pegida, which is called Nügida.

Several of the suspects have been “participants and managers” in xenophobic demonstrations, police said, possibly including the anniversary rally held by Pegida that drew more than 20,000 people in Dresden on Monday.

A spokesperson for the Bamberg public prosecutor said the group may have planned to use explosives including two illegal one-kilogram firecrackers, which were allegedly imported from eastern Europe, to attack refugee shelters in the town on Halloween.

Prosecutor Erik Ohlenschlager said they aimed to "instil fear and terror among asylum-seekers".

He called the group “dangerous” and said the threat they posed would be taken seriously, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

Werner Mikulasch, the deputy police chief for Upper Franconia, said explosives experts determined that the "ball bombs" could have blown out windows if thrown near the asylum-seekers' homes, or caused serious injury or death in a confined space.

German officials have warned that violence against asylum seekers is rising as hundreds of thousands of people from Syria, Iraq, the Middle East and Africa arrive in the country.

According to figures provided to The Associated Press, there were more than 576 crimes against or around refugee shelters this year, almost three times as many as in all of 2014, primarily vandalism, arson, propaganda and incitement.

The Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere, visited one of the refugee shelters on Thursday and lauded police for their work that he said ”might have prevented attacks or other crimes”.

He urged Germans not to accept or tolerate actions borne out of “fear and hate”.

At least five of the suspects were released after initial questioning but several remained in custody today.

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