An asylum seeker center in Leipzig, Germany, was the target of an arson attack | Photo: picture alliance/dpa
An asylum seeker center in Leipzig, Germany, was the target of an arson attack | Photo: picture alliance/dpa

A residence for refugees in Leipzig became the target of an arson attack while Germany commemorated 30 years since the Rostock-Lichtenhagen racial violence. Leipzig's mayor has said the timing of the attack was not a coincidence.

Unknown perpetrators carried out an arson attack on a residence for refugees in the east German city of Leipzig over the weekend, the Saxon State Criminal Police Office announced on Saturday (August 27).

The perpetrators threw several incendiary devices at the residence, made up of around 225 homes, in the Lausen-Grünau district of Leipzig on Friday night, authorities said. Security guards quickly extinguished the fire, leaving nobody injured. Minor property damage was inflicted. The perpetrators fled undetected, according to the police report.

The attack took place as Germany commemorated the 30-year anniversary of the Rostock-Lichtenhagen pogrom. In August, 1992, several hundred people besieged a tower block that had been turned into an asylum-seeker reception center and a residence mostly occupied by Vietnamese people who had worked as foreign contract workers in East Germany. Thousands applauded as neo-Nazis threw bottles, molotov cocktails and stones at the building while chanting racist slogans.

Also read: Germany: One attack on refugee center per week

'Inhumane crimes'

Leipzig's Mayor Burkhard Jung said on Sunday he reacted with "disgust" to the attack in his city. 

"Of all things, in this week in which we remember the attacks in Rostock 30 years ago, to throw an incendiary device at an asylum seekers' accommodation, shows that we are not dealing here with spontaneous perpetrators," he said.

Saxony's Interior Minister Armin Schuster also condemned the attack. It was "an alarming sign that such inhumane crimes are not a thing of the past," he said.

The minister added that there would be increased surveillance of all asylum seekers' accommodations in the state of Saxony.

Counter-extremism and terrorism units are still investigating the crime and are not ruling out a politically motivated attack, authorities said. Investigators are asking for any witnesses to come forward.

Activist group Leipzig nimmt Platz has called for a demonstration in Grünau on Monday to raise awareness about systematic racism in Germany. The group pointed out that the targeted migrant residence in Leipzig had already been the target of attacks in 1991.

Germany sees one attack on refugee center per week

The Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (NOZ) newspaper, citing government figures, reported in August last year that at least one attack on a refugee reception center takes place in Germany every week. Attacks include assault, property damage and propaganda.

The number of criminal offenses on asylum seekers and their places of accommodation in Germany exceeded 1,250 in 2021. By comparison, authorities registered 1,690 criminal offenses the previous year, while 2019 saw 1,749 attacks, NOZ reported.

Almost all of the assaults in 2021 were directed at asylum seekers outside of their accommodation, and 153 people were injured as a result, according to the ministry.

The decline was mostly due to pandemic-related restrictions, according to the Germany's interior ministry.

With dpa and AFP

Also read: German charged with murder of Ghanaian asylum seeker in 1991


More articles