Six arrested after fire destroys German refugee shelter

Published 08.06.2016 23:12

Six residents of a refugee shelter in the German city of Dusseldorf were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of deliberately starting a fire which completely destroyed the building, authorities said.

Investigators said that the men had been taken into police custody for questioning. The accommodation houses around 130 men, all of whom were safely evacuated during the blaze, fire safety officials said. Twenty-eight of the residents were being treated for smoke inhalation.

A fireman and a volunteer at the hall also sustained minor injuries. Germany has seen a spate of arson attacks and other hate crimes at refugee homes in recent months, as a surge in migrant arrivals fuels anti-foreigner sentiment.

Police are also frequently called out to brawls at migrant accommodation, as patience wanes in overcrowded conditions and ethnic tensions among housemates intensify.

Last month, German authorities reported an increase in the number of arson fires at shelters for refugees who flooded Germany last year, raising concerns about anti-migrant violence. "This year, there have already been 45 arson fires," said Holger Muench, head of the federal criminal police (BKA). "What is particularly worrisome is the increasing scale of the violence," he said in an interview with the Funke newspaper group. In 2015, when Germany opened its doors to 1.1 million migrants, mostly from war-torn Syria, 92 arson fires at centers for asylum seekers were reported, compared with only six in 2014, according to BKA statistics published in late January. Support for the anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has risen sharply.

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