A group of far-right activists have reportedly admitted impersonating as police officers to attack and rob refugees in a series of attacks in Calais.
The five local men, aged between 19 and 14, were arrested on Wednesday and include the founder of an anti-immigration movement and protest organisers.
In up to seven attacks since the start of the year, the gang allegedly formed a human cordon, donning combat boots and wielding iron bars to intercept asylum seekers attempting to board lorries entering the Channel Tunnel, French broadcaster iTele reported.
The men proceeded to demand money and steal cash and mobile phones valued at an estimated €4,000 (£3,150), shouting “police!” when anyone attempted to intervene.
They have reportedly admitted the assaults, theft and impersonating police officers, and are awaiting a court hearing in Boulogne-sur-Mer.
It is the latest in a series of reported attacks on refugees across Europe, including a “clean-up” operation by vigilantes in the German city of Cologne that saw at least 11 victims targeted in a single day.
Far-right activists blocked bridges leading from refugee settlements to the town centre on Saturday morning while claiming to defend Europe against a “migrant invasion”.
Protesters from the Generation Identitaire group burned tyres and clashed with police after setting up barricades emblazoned with their logo and the slogans “go home” and “no way”.
Police arrested 14 members of the group and seized one of their vehicles, with officials saying they would not “let extremist movements manipulate the migrant crisis“.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies