Neo-Nazis attack refugee hostel

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The Independent Online
ROSTOCK (Agencies) - Violent clashes broke out in the eastern German town of Rostock yesterday between police and hundreds of youths attempting to attack a hostel for asylum-seekers cheered on by around 2,500 of bystanders.

For the second successive night the assailants, most of them youths, threw stones, highway flares and Molotov cocktails at the police protecting the hostel, an 11- storey building housing about 300 Romanian asylum-seekers and Vietnamese immigrants.

The police, several of whom were injured, used water-cannon and made several arrests.

Similar scenes occurred overnight on Saturday, with local people supporting the skinheads in their assault on the hostel - the largest for asylum-seekers in the former East German state of Mecklenburg-Pomerania - and attempting to prevent police intervention.

In what is being seen as the worst racist incident in Germany since a similar attack on immigrants in Hoyerswerda in September 1991, the skinheads fought throughout Saturday night with a 150-strong police force, 12 of whom were injured. Eight people were arrested and several of the demonstrators were also injured.

Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd of local people, who claimed the police had no right to intervene against German citizens.

Yesterday, police charged several times to disperse the attackers who tried to force their way into the hostel. Police had been expecting further incidents as scores of neo-Nazis from northern Germany said they planned to travel to Rostock to join in the attacks.

The hostel is to be closed next week, after repeated protests from local people about noise and dirt.

Last September ultra-right- wing thugs laid siege for nearly a week to an apartment block for asylum-seekers in the east German town of Hoyerswerda.

The tide of asylum-seekers has been blamed for a surge of neo- Nazi violence since last year in Germany. Germany's main opposition party, the Social Democrats, bowed to pressure from public opinion and agreed on Saturday to support a tighter asylum law sought by Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government.