Angela Merkel to visit asylum shelter after wave of far-right attacks

Angela Merkel is to strongly condemn a recent wave of attacks on refugees in Germany when she makes her first visit to an asylum seekers’ shelter that is under round-the-clock police protection following violent far-right protests.

The German chancellor will travel to Heidenau, in Saxony, on Wednesday to meet police, volunteers and refugees at the emergency shelter in a disused DIY store, days after the interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, announced that Germany could expect around 800,000 asylum seekers this year.

There has been growing pressure on Merkel to take a more public stand against the protests.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning a planned shelter for asylum seekers in Nauen, near Berlin, was destroyed in a fire that police said was very likely to have been an arson attack.

The shelter, in a gymnasium attached to a vocational school, was due to house around 130 asylum seekers from next month. The mayor of Nauen, Detlef Fleischmann, said there had been an angry campaign by extremists on social media who were against the shelter, and attacks on the offices of several local politicians. “If this was caused by arsonists, as far as I’m concerned they’re criminals,” he said.

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