Blasts at mosque and congress centre in German city

The entrance of a mosque (above) in Dresden was damaged by an improvised bomb on Monday. Another home-made device went off at an international conference centre. Police said they suspected a xenophobic and nationalist motive behind the explosions in
The entrance of a mosque (above) in Dresden was damaged by an improvised bomb on Monday. Another home-made device went off at an international conference centre. Police said they suspected a xenophobic and nationalist motive behind the explosions in a city which has become a hot spot for far-right protests amid Germany's huge migrant influx.PHOTO: REUTERS

DRESDEN • Two improvised bombs exploded in the eastern German city of Dresden - one at a mosque and one at an international conference centre.

Police yesterday said they suspected a xenophobic and nationalist motive.

No one was injured in Monday's blasts in a city which has become a hot spot for far-right protests amid Germany's huge migrant influx.

The home-made bombs damaged the door of the mosque while the imam and his family were inside. Damage was, however, done to the building through pressure waves.

Soon after, the International Congress Centre was damaged by a home-made device and the bar of a nearby hotel was evacuated.

Police officers were sent to protect other mosques in the city.

Dresden next Monday hosts national celebrations to mark 26 years since the reunification of East and West Germany, to be attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck.

"We also suspect a connection with celebrations next weekend for the Day of German Unity" on Oct 3, said Dresden police chief Horst Kretzschmar.

Saxony state premier Stanislaw Tillich called the "cowardly" bombings an "attack on freedom of religion and on the values of an enlightened society" that could easily have claimed lives.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the mosque attack was "all the more scandalous" because it took place on the eve of the 10th annual meeting of the German Islam Conference, a dialogue forum.

Dresden in Germany's former communist East is the birthplace of the anti-Islam street movement, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (Pegida). Its members have angrily protested against the influx of refugees and migrants that last year brought one million asylum seekers to Europe's biggest economy.

About a dozen demonstrations are planned over the weekend by Pegida and anti-fascist groups.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2016, with the headline 'Blasts at mosque and congress centre in German city'. Print Edition | Subscribe