BERLIN — Groups of far-right vigilantes have taken to the streets of a small Bavarian town following a series of violent assaults by migrants, reports suggest.
Michael Cerny, the mayor of Amberg, said he was “shocked” after the extremist National Democratic Party (NPD) posted photos online of four people wearing red vests bearing the slogan “protection zones.”
“When we say we will create protection zones in Amberg, we mean it,” the NPD wrote on Facebook.
The patrols follow a series of unprovoked assaults last Saturday in which a group of four migrants allegedly set upon 12 people in the streets of Amberg.
Most of the injuries were minor, but one 17-year-old was taken to hospital with a head wound.
Police detained the young men, aged 17 to 19, who originally came from Afghanistan and Iran and were allegedly drunk when randomly attacking passers-by. They remain in custody.
The case revived a simmering debate over immigration, integration and crime that has flared since the mass influx of more than a million asylum seekers into Germany since 2015.
Cerny said he feared the vigilantes were travelling to the town from elsewhere in Germany and that the situation could get out of hand.
“I can understand the uncertainty that I see in the reactions of some local people, but this hatred and the threats of violence coming from all over the country are going too far,” he told the local Mittelbayerischen Zeitung newspaper.
Another group calling itself Kraut/Pol also sent a message to the town authorities accusing officials of failing to protect the citizens of Amberg. “Unfortunately, you have failed completely,” the email read. “Today we are sending two remote scouts to Amberg. We do not forget, we do not forgive.”
It is not the first time there have been claims of vigilantes responding to migrant violence in Germany but police are investigating the reports.
Last August, video footage emerged of self-appointed “crime fighters” attacking people of foreign appearance in the city of Chemnitz, after a local man was stabbed to death in a suspected attack by a migrant.
In 2016, video footage emerged of vigilantes dragging an Iraqi asylum-seeker out of a supermarket and tying him to a tree. It later emerged the victim was a psychiatric patient trying to complain about a faulty phone card.
Meanwhile, further details emerged yesterday about an attack by a 50-year-old unemployed German who steered his car into groups of immigrants on New Year’s Eve.
The incident, in the central German city of Bottrop, injured eight people, including a four-year-old Afghan boy and a 10-year-old Syrian girl. The boy’s mother said yesterday that he was still traumatised and in shock.
“The car caught my son on the back,” Shakiba A. told Bild newspaper. “I screamed. Then the driver turned and rammed my shoulder with the mirror.”