ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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German police arrest far-right extremists after Leipzig rampage

Backlash against migrants comes in the wake of New Year’s Eve sexual harassment incidents

Protesters from the PEGIDA movement (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident) march during a rally in Leipzig, German, on January 11, 2016. (AFP/Tobias Schwarz)
Protesters from the PEGIDA movement (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident) march during a rally in Leipzig, German, on January 11, 2016. (AFP/Tobias Schwarz)

BERLIN, Germany — German police said Tuesday they have arrested 211 far-right extremists who went on a rampage on the sidelines of a xenophobic rally in Leipzig, setting cars on fire and smashing windows.

The extremists are known to police as football hooligans, and had wrought chaos Monday at an area of the eastern city known to be left-leaning, just as thousands of far-right supporters of the anti-migrant PEGIDA movement were gathering at a peaceful demonstration, authorities said.

News website Spiegel Online also published a picture of a kebab shop with a smashed window.

Germany has been outraged by a rash of crime targeting women at New Year’s festivities in Cologne in the west that has been blamed on migrants.

The broken window of a Döner kebab restaurant is seen in a street of the Connewitz district in Leipzig on January 11, 2016 where far-right supporters and hooligans went on a rampage on the sidelines of a xenophobic rally in Leipzig, setting cars on fire and smashing windows. (AFP/dpa /Jan Woitas)
The broken window of a Döner kebab restaurant in the Connewitz district in Leipzig, where far-right supporters and hooligans went on a rampage on the sidelines of a xenophobic rally in Leipzig, setting cars on fire and smashing windows, January 11, 2016. (AFP/dpa/Jan Woitas)

As thousands rallied to blame refugees for the violence, a group of hooligans broke away and smashed windows, burned cars and rubbish bins and shot off pyrotechnics that set a floor of a building on fire.

In return, left-wing radicals vandalized a bus that had been chartered by the hooligans, police said.

In all, 57 offenses were committed that night, police said.

Germany has recorded a sharp jump in crime attributed to the far-right in tandem with the surge in asylum seeker arrivals which reached 1.1 million last year.

Police said groups linked to Cologne’s extremist hooligan scene had used social media to organize gatherings in the inner city Sunday evening, and launched a spate of attacks against Pakistani, Syrian and African men.

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