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German soldier and relatives arrested over far-right extremism, hoarding weapons

Number of reported far-right incidents in German military climbed to 477 last year from 363 in 2019

Soldiers attend an oath-taking ceremony of the German army at the Defence Ministry in Berlin, Germany, July 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Illustrative: Soldiers attend an oath-taking ceremony of the German army at the Defense Ministry in Berlin, Germany, July 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

BERLIN, Germany — A German soldier and a relative have been arrested on suspicion of illegally hoarding weapons and expressing far-right sympathies, investigators said Monday.

The two men were arrested over the weekend in the central state of Hesse, according to the region’s criminal police office and prosecutors in the city of Hanau. A third man, also a relative, turned himself in to police on Sunday evening.

The identities of the men, aged 20, 21 and 63, weren’t made public. Investigators said they found evidence including firearms, ammunition and explosives in searches of the men’s homes and workplaces.

Their statement didn’t specify what branch of the military the soldier belongs to.

The arrests come at a time of concern about far-right extremism in the German military, or Bundeswehr. Last week, parliament’s commissioner for the military said the number of reported far-right incidents in the Bundeswehr climbed to 477 last year from 363 in 2019.

The country’s special forces, the KSK, have faced particular scrutiny after numerous allegations of far-right extremism in recent years. Germany’s defense minister disbanded one of the KSK’s units in July and vowed to to further investigate extremism and implement reforms.

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