Neo-Nazi protesters clash with police at new migrants’ shelter in East Germany

Neo- Nazi protesters demonstrating against high numbers of migrant arrivals clash with police in East Germany leaving some 31 officers injured

Neo-Nazi protesters who gathered to demonstrate against the arrival of migrants at a newly opened shelter in eastern Germany, have clashed violently with police, leaving some 31 officers injured, the Guardian reports. The clash is seen as a sign of growing tension over the record influx of asylum seekers expected this year.

The weekend saw two consecutive nights of violence which came at the end of a week in which the interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, said the country could expect to receive as many as 800, 000 asylum seekers in 2015, the biggest influx since the second world war.

On Sunday, Angela Merkel’s deputy, Sigmar Gabriel, called the issue Germany’s biggest challenge since reunification 25 years ago.

The Guardian reports that police in the town of Heidenau, near Dresden, were forced to seal off the shelter, which has been set up in a disused DIY store, as demonstrators hurled abuse at arriving migrants and bombarded police with stones, bottles and firecrackers.

Police responded by firing teargas and pepper spray in an effort to secure the entrance road to the shelter, which has been built to accommodate 600 people.

De Maizière said perpetrators of racist violence would feel the full strength of the law. Jürgen Opitz, the mayor of Heidenau, urged the town’s 16,000 residents to show solidarity towards the migrants.

“Humanity is required. No one is being asked to sacrifice anything,” he said, adding that Saxony was in a strong position to help the large numbers of migrants coming to Germany and Heidenau was fully behind the effort.

The confrontations add to the record number of reported attacks on asylum seekers’ homes this year, which was already more than twice as high as in 2014 by the end of June. Police say the real number of attacks is probably much higher, and most of the hostility is in towns and villages in the former communist east, a fact that is casting a huge shadow over the region in the runup to the 25th anniversary of German reunification in October.

Far-right groups across Germany have been encouraging people to report the whereabouts of every new home under their “no refugee camps in my neighbourhood” campaign.

Last month, Google responded to the protests and deleted a map run by the campaign group which detailed their location in what amounted to an open invitation to attack them, while some shelters, such as the one in Freital, Saxony, have been subject to arson attacks and a barrage of abuse by far-right protesters gathered outside.

Migrants are being housed in everything from tents in makeshift camps and metal containers to schools empty over the summer holidays. With term due to start soon, however, a frantic effort is on to find more suitable long-term accommodation.