Police set to deal with Nazi violence

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POLICE in Germany were yesterday bracing themselves for another weekend of violence against foreigners, which was expected to be particularly fierce in the eastern Land (regional state) of Brandenburg.

A spokesman for the Brandenburg government said that hundreds of border guards and a special squad of police reinforcements from the west German city of Munster were on standby to counter any trouble.

Likely flashpoints included the towns of Eisenhuttenstadt, the scene of more clashes on Thursday night, Cottbus and Frankfurt an der Oder.

In a further attempt to prevent an escalation of the violence, the Brandenburg authority announced yesterday that it had banned a rally scheduled to be held today by the extreme right- wing German Peoples Union (DVU) in Konigs Wusterhausen, just south of Berlin.

In Thursday night's violence in Eisenhuttenstadt, some 200 police and border troops battled for two hours with 60 petrol-bomb-throwing right-wing radicals who were attacking a large hostel containing asylum-seekers.

Three people were arrested and five police cars were badly damaged in the skirmish, which was only brought under control when water cannons were bought into use.

Elsewhere in eastern Germany on Thursday night, police in Lubben said that a firebomb was thrown at a local home for foreigners, but that no one was injured in the attack.

A small group of right-wing extremists also targeted a home in Berlin that accommodates Vietnamese asylum-seekers, again causing no injuries.

The continuing spate of xenophobic violence, which began in the northern city of Rostock late last month, was described as a 'disgrace for Germany' by Peter Hintze, general secretary of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democratic Union, during a special party gathering which took place yesterday.

During a debate on the attacks, CDU spokesmen renewed their call for a speedy amendment to the German constitution to bring about a drastic reduction in the numbers of people able to seek asylum here.

A total of 274,000 have sought asylum in Germany so far this year, already more than the record 256,000 registered in 1991. The German Finance Ministry has estimated that the total cost of sheltering refugees last year was DM 5.4bn (pounds 1.9bn), a figure that could more than double by the end of this year.

The opposition Social Democrats (SPD), whose support is necessary for any constitutional change, is set to discuss the asylum issue at a special party meeting in the autumn.

Ulrich Klose, leader of the SPD's parliamentary faction, expressed confidence yesterday that the party would agree to drop its opposition to constitutional change, in line with the wishes of the party's leader, Bjorn Engholm.

Given the scale of the anti-foreigner outbursts, the SPD has also urged Chancellor Kohl to call an all-party crisis meeting to discuss immediate measures to halt the violence.