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Anti-foreigner attacks in Germany rise 20 percent

Wednesday - 6/18/2014, 11:30am  ET

FRANK JORDANS
Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) -- The number of attacks against foreigners in Germany rose 20 percent last year to the highest level since 2006, government figures released Wednesday showed.

There were 473 xenophobic attacks in 2013, up from 393 the previous year, including three attempted homicides, according to the country's annual report on extremist activity.

Germany's top security official, Thomas de Maiziere, expressed concern that far-right extremists were using the rise in asylum applications to incite hatred against foreigners. The country recently agreed to double the number of Syrians it takes in to 20,000 and is also seeing an overall rise in immigrants.

Germany's annual report on domestic radicalism found a small drop in members of far-right extremists to 21,700 from 22,150. But the number of far-right extremists considered potentially violent remained stable at 9,600 people.

Far-right parties in Germany have become recently emboldened, benefiting from recent court rulings that removed hurdles to entering local assemblies and the European Parliament. Last month the far-right National Democratic Party won its first seat in the European Parliament. On the same day another party, calling itself The Right, gained a seat in the local assembly of the western city of Dortmund.

Security services say The Right, which more than tripled its membership to 500 last year, is trying to use parliamentary privileges to avoid being banned.

The report counted 27,700 far-left extremists, some 6,900 of whom were considered potentially violent. Both figures constituted a drop from the previous year, when there were 29,400 and 7,100 respectively.

Germany has also seen a rising number of Salafists, a fundamentalist Islamic movement, from 4,500 to 5,500 over the past year. Domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen says Salafists constitute the greatest potential terrorism threat in Germany.


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