A far-right German MP was left seriously injured in hospital after being beaten unconscious in a “politically motivated attack”.
His party issued a graphic photograph of his head injuries and released a statement describing the incident as an “assassination attempt” and “a black day for democracy in Germany.”
The AfD described how Mr Magnitz, 66, was attacked by three masked men armed with a piece of wood before kicking his head as he lay on the ground in front of the Theater am Goetheplatz.
“It is thanks to the courageous intervention of a construction worker that the attackers could not complete their project and that Frank Magnitz escaped with his life,” the party added. ”He is now seriously injured in the hospital.”
Bremen police said the attack took place at around 5.20pm and appealed for witnesses. ”Due to the function of the injured party, a political motivation to act is assumed,” the police said in a statement. ”The state police and the public prosecutor’s office in Bremen have started the investigation.”
The police said there were at least three attackers who were “dressed in dark clothing with hoods or caps”.
“They hit him with an unknown object against the head and fled towards Bleicherstraße. Two craftsmen nearby spotted the man lying on the ground and called an ambulance. The fire department then alerted the police. Several patrol cars searched for the suspects immediately.”
Mr Magnitz, who remains in hospital, told the local newspaper Weser-Kurier that he could not remember the attack.
Foreign minister Heiko Maas, a centre-left politician who has been a strong critic of AfD, tweeted that “violence must never be a means of political confrontation – no matter against whom or what the motives are.
“There is no justification whatsoever for this. Anyone who commits such a crime must be punished consistently.”
Green Party MP Cem Ozdemir said ”those who fight hatred with hatred always win the hatred in the end” while Johannes Kahrs, an MP for the centre-left Social Democratic Party, wished Mr Magnitz a quick recovery and said: “Violence does not work against anybody. Extremism of every kind is crap.”
The anti-immigration AfD became the third-largest party in the German parliament in 2017, with 12.6 per cent of the vote. It claims its members have been increasingly targeted by left-wing “antifa“ in recent months.
Tensions have increased since a 35 year-old German-Cuban man was stabbed to death in Chemnitz, a city in the eastern state of Saxony, in August last year.
The killing triggered violent clashes between neo-Nazis and police and demonstrations by far-right groups, including supporters of the AfD party and anti-Islam Pegida movement.
On Tuesday prosecutors said a Syrian man had been charged with second degree murder over the stabbing. They are yet to make a decision on a case against an Iraqi man who was freed on bail by a court in September.
German authorities have also issued an international arrest warrant for a second Iraqi man who is wanted in connection with the attack.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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