Neo-Nazi riot rocks German town

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BONN - Police in the eastern German city of Magdeburg were criticised yesterday for failing to act effectively when dozens of extreme-right youths went on the rampage on Thursday night, causing a number of injuries, writes Steve Crawshaw.

Nearly 50 people were arrested. The trouble began when several Africans were chased into a Turkish-owned cafe by skinheads with knives, and attacked. There were running battles in the streets between the drunken skinheads and Turks, and between the skinheads and police. The skinheads had roamed through the town, chanting 'Sieg Heil]' and other slogans.

City officials played down the violence, saying the youths were disorganised and drunk. The police director, Antonius Stockmann, said three Germans were in hospital with knife wounds, and 35 Germans and 14 foreigners were detained. No charges were brought because police were not able to connect individuals with specific crimes.

The chase after the African refugees was described by a police spokesman as a 'hunt for foreigners'. The youths smashed tables and windows in the cafe into which the Africans had fled. A waitress said: 'Everything got smashed. Our customers all fled.' The government spokesman in Bonn said it was a 'disgrace' that this could happen in a German city.

Meanwhile, a Jewish cemetery in the eastern German city of Dresden has been desecrated, with damage to several dozen graves. The cemetery had already suffered damage in October 1993.