Neo-Nazi group claims responsibility for arson attack on Afghan refugee center in Greece

Published 24.03.2018 12:42 Modified 24.03.2018 12:52

A neo-Nazi group claimed responsibility for an arson attack on a migrant and refugee community center in central Athens on Friday, amid a rise in anti-immigration sentiment towards refugees and migrants, particularly Muslims, across Europe.

The far-right group, calling itself Crypteia, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to Greek media.

The group has previously assaulted the home of an 11-year-old Afghan boy in Athens. It has also left death threats on the voicemails of many civil society organizations, including the Muslim Association of Greece.

The attack took place on the fifth floor of the community center located in the busy Omonia area of the capital on Thursday.

The far-right attackers doused the office of the Afghan community in petrol, smashed computers, windows and paintings before setting it all on fire, causing significant material damage.

Fortunately there were no injuries as the assailants broke into the premises during lunch break hours.

"It is good that no one was here, otherwise we would have had victims," Yonous Muhammadi, former president of the Afghan Community in Greece and current head of the Greek Forum of Refugees, told Al Jazeera.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) swiftly condemned the attack.

The UNHCR called for continuing protection, support and empathy for all refugees and migrants against such racist attacks.

The center had previously come under attack in 2011 during a children's Greek-language course, according to the Greek Reporter. It had also been receiving death threats from far-right groups recently, the former president of the community center said.

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