A German city that’s become a focal point of right-wing extremists temporarily banned new refugees in an attempt to stem a surge in violence there.
Cottbus, located southeast of Berlin, has been hit with attacks from refugees and far-right extremists since the start of this year.
Brandenburg state police said two Syrian teenage boys were arrested under the suspicion of injuring a German teenager in the face with a knife, the Telegraph reported.
The 16-year-old reportedly sustained injuries that were not life-threatening in what started as a fight between Syrian and German schoolmates.
That fight unfolded just days after a group of three Syrian asylum-seekers, aged 14, 15 and 17, attacked a man and his wife outside a shopping center, police told the Telegraph. Officials handed the 15-year-old a “negative residency permit” effectively ordering him and his father to leave the city.
Cottbus, a small university center with just over 100,000 residents, has taken in around 3,000 asylum seekers since embattled German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the country to a large number of refugees in 2015.
Coupled with a lackluster economy, the influx has fueled anti-immigrant sentiment among German citizens, and Cottbus is home to one of the country’s largest right-wing extremist scenes.
Authorities counted 145 right-wing radicals living in Cottbus last year, Express Digest reported.
A community group told local media that neo-Nazis had assaulted refugees on the morning of New Year’s Day, while last weekend a group of around 100 masked neo-Nazis marched in an illegal demonstration through the city.
Brandenburg’s state interior minister Karl-Heinz Schroeter told a German broadcaster on Friday that the ban on new refugees would stay in effect “for the next few months.”