Planned refugee shelter in Germany hit by arson attack
BERLIN (AP) — A former hotel in eastern Germany that was supposed to be used as accommodation for refugee families starting next week was targeted Friday in what authorities believe was an anti-foreigner arson attack.
Police said windows were broken and a fire broke out shortly after 5 a.m. at the building on the outskirts of Bautzen, east of the city of Dresden. Four employees of the owner who were staying in the building were unharmed. The fire was extinguished.
An initial group of 30 refugees, from countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Russia, was due to move into the building next Thursday. It wasn’t immediately clear what would happen to that plan.
The former hotel already was used as accommodation for refugees between 2015 and 2017, and was the target of an attempted arson attack in 2016 when three young men threw Molotov cocktails over a fence toward the building, the German news agency dpa reported.
The interior minister of Saxony state, Armin Schuster, said it’s not yet clear who threw incendiary devices into the hotel on Friday but authorities believe it was a xenophobic arson attack.
“Setting fire to buildings out of hatred because you don’t want to have refugees near you is deeply primitive and inhuman,” Schuster said. Saxony’s governor, Michael Kretschmer, tweeted that finding out who was responsible “has the highest priority.”
Last week, a fire destroyed a shelter for Ukrainian refugees on Germany’s Baltic coast in what authorities say could have been arson.
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