BERLIN (AFP) - Clashes broke out between dozens of asylum seekers and far-right extremists in an eastern German city, forcing the police to call in reinforcements to quell the violence, police said on Thursday (Sept 15).
Around 80 German young men and women hurled abuse at 20 asylum seekers who returned the insults, as the clashes erupted on Wednesday night in the town of Bautzen, which has been the scene of several previous anti-refugee incidents.
"Witnesses reported seeing bottles thrown and physical injuries," said the police.
"Information available suggest that the asylum seekers had sparked the fight," they said, adding that the young migrant men also flung bottles and wooden slats at the 100 officers sent in to stop the clashes.
The battling sides subsequently left the scene, but the far-right extremists broke up into smaller groups and followed the migrants to a refugee shelter.
The migrants fled into the building, while officers formed a cordon to prevent attacks, police said, adding that three other shelters had to be protected by security forces overnight.
Meanwhile, an ambulance sent for a 18-year-old Moroccan man, who was found with a gash on his arm, was also pelted by stones by the German extremists, said the police.
Former communist eastern Germany has been the scene of several ugly incidents in which far-right extremists targeted asylum seekers.
In February, a cheering crowd was seen in front of a burning asylum-seeker home in Bautzen, clapping and shouting: "Good that's up in flames."
That same weekend, a video emerged of far-right thugs intimidating refugees - including crying children - and preventing them from getting off a bus to get into an asylum-seeker home at another eastern town Clausnitz.
President Joachim Gauck, who had on several occasions urged Germans to extend a welcoming hand to refugees, was booed during a visit to Bautzen, a town of 40,000 people which borders the Czech Republic.
Germany recorded nearly 1,000 far-right offences targeting refugee shelters last year, a fivefold annual rise as around a million asylum seekers arrived in the country, according to official data.