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German police, refugees clash in camp after Quran pages thrown down toilet
At least 10 people were injured in a riot at a refugee shelter in central Germany over a torn Quran, police said Thursday, in fresh tensions as the country braces to host 800,000 asylum seekers this year.
Violence erupted after about 20 refugees in the overcrowded shelter went in pursuit of another resident late Wednesday, accusing him of ripping pages out of a Quran, local police said.
The man was eventually saved by the shelter’s guards as well as police, prompting the mob to turn their anger on the security forces.
About 50 people armed with steel rods began throwing stones at the officers, leaving at least 10 people injured, including three police.
Windows were smashed, furniture flung out of windows and even dividing walls in the shelter hacked down in the rampage that lasted several hours in the town of Suhl in Thuringia.
Germany is struggling to accommodate a wave of asylum-seekers from war zones such as Syria but also migrants from countries that are not at war like Albania and Kosovo.
It was not immediately clear where the victim and his assailants were from.
The sudden surge in asylum demands this year has left authorities scrambling to house the migrants, with schools and tents used as temporary shelter.
Local officials have repeatedly raised concerns of overcrowding, saying that they were unable to cope with the accelerating demand.
The refugee home in Suhl has a capacity for 1,200 people but is currently hosting 1,700.
The state premier for Thuringia, Bodo Ramelow, told public broadcaster MDR that different ethnic groups should be separated in refugee homes in order to prevent such violence from erupting.
But the authorities were hamstrung by a lack of available shelter, he added.
“We need to expand our capacity urgently,” Ramelow stressed.
Europe’s biggest economy has become the top destination for those fleeing war and persecution.
Berlin now expects to receive up 800,000 asylum-seekers this year — four times more than in 2014 — as the latest figures show numbers accelerating dramatically.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere is due to meet his French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve later Thursday in Berlin to discuss Europe’s biggest migrant crisis since World War II.