'Strategy' behind German race riots

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WITH xenophobic violence in eastern Germany showing no signs of abating, a leading regional politician said yesterday that attacks on hostels housing foreigners were being systematically orchestrated by ringleaders using citizens' band (CB) radios.

During a visit to a besieged hostel for asylum-seekers in Cottbus, Alwin Ziel, the interior minister of the state of Brandenburg, said that the attacks were being 'directed from outside' by 'rightist extremist criminals' using CB radios from their cars. 'We have got to realise that this sort of thing is planned and is not a question of people just doing what comes to them spontaneously,' he said. 'There is a strategy behind it and we have to get adjusted to that.'

In Bonn, MPs held an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the right- wing violence that has rocked the country's troubled east for more than a week. The Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, said he was ashamed by the anti-foreigner violence that spread from the Baltic port of Rostock last week to at least seven other east German cities over the weekend. Mr Kinkel told German radio: 'My foreign colleagues have repeatedly brought up the events and I have told them that I am ashamed.'

Cottbus, a centre for the neo-Nazi Deutsche Alternative movement, was the scene of more skirmishes on Sunday night as police struggled to prevent about 150 right-wing extremists from storming a hostel containing 1,000 foreigners. The Sunday night clash, which lasted three hours, was the third in succession at the Cottbus hostel. According to Mr Ziel, many of those involved in the violence in Brandenburg came from Saxony and other states.

The outpouring of xenophobia, which was triggered off in Rostock late last month, assumed a further sinister form in Berlin on Sunday night, when a bomb was detonated at a memorial to the thousands of Berlin Jews deported to concentration camps in 1942.

The city's Jewish community, proclaiming that there was an 'obvious connection' between the attacks on foreigners and the memorial, warned that 'far greater damage threatens to raise its head'.

In a reference to the tacit approval the right-wing extremists have attracted from some members of the public, the community warned: 'Whoever is not threatened himself and turns away apathetically should think of the results such behaviour brought upon this country over 50 years ago.'

While condemnation of the extremist violence is almost universal, Germany's politicians remain divided over how best to combat it. The opposition Social Democrats have proposed the creation of a special 1,000-man police unit which would be specifically trained to tackle street violence. The government insists that the primary cause of the problem is the ever-increasing number of asylum- seekers coming into Germany and that the solution is to change the constitution, making it possible to reject many at the border.

ROSTOCK - Police here are investigating several foreign television teams on suspicion that they gave local children money to perform Nazi acts on camera, a police spokesman, Berndt Teichmann, said, AFP reports.

The alleged incidents happened on Saturday on the sidelines of an anti-racist rally at a housing estate in the Rostock suburbs that drew several hundred journalists, he said.