Friday 23 February 2018

Calls for tougher migrant checks and more police after Germany terror attacks

Police officers leave a former hotel where a 27-year-old Syrian man who had been denied asylum lived before blowing himself up in Ansbach, Germany (AP)
Police officers leave a former hotel where a 27-year-old Syrian man who had been denied asylum lived before blowing himself up in Ansbach, Germany (AP)

Top security officials in Germany have called for tougher screening of asylum-seekers and also announced that more police officers will be hired following four attacks in the country - two of them claimed by the extremist Islamic State group.

Horst Seehofer, the interior minister of Bavaria - where three of last week's attacks took place - told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper on Tuesday: "We must know who is in our country."

Thomas Strobl, the interior minister of Baden-Wuerttemberg - where a woman was killed by a Syrian attacker on Sunday - also demanded a tougher stance toward asylum-seekers.

"Those who abuse the right to hospitality must go back to their home countries - make no mistake about it," Mr Strobl told Funke media group.

Three of the attacks were carried out by recent immigrants, rekindling concerns about Germany's ability to cope with the estimated one million migrants registered as entering the country last year.

Mr Seehofer also announced that the state of Bavaria would hire more police officers.

"The increase will be significant," he said.

The demands for better security screening of migrants and increased police presence in Germany came after a 27-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker set off a backpack laden with explosives and shrapnel on Sunday night after being refused entry to a crowded music festival in the Bavarian city of Ansbach, killing himself and injuring 15 people.

The extremist Islamic State group published a video early on Tuesday in which a man pledges allegiance to IS and vows Germany's people "won't be able to sleep peacefully anymore". It appeared to be the same as the one found by German investigators on the suicide bomber's phone.

The man in the video, his face covered with a black scarf, threatens to make life intolerable and warned: "We will blow up your homes."

German authorities could not immediately be contacted to confirm whether the video was the same.

In the video, the attacker said he acted in response to IS's call to target countries of the US-led coalition fighting the group in Iraq and Syria. Germany is not involved in combat operations but has contributed reconnaissance aircraft to the effort.

After the IS connection surfaced, federal prosecutors in Karlsruhe, who investigate all suspected terrorism, took over the case, saying they would seek to "determine if thus-far unknown accomplices or backers were involved in the crime".

The suspect came to Germany two years ago and applied for asylum in August 2014, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. It emerged that he had already registered in Bulgaria and later in Austria, so Germany rejected his request and ordered him to be deported to Bulgaria - most recently on July 13.

Asylum-seekers are routinely deported to the first country where they registered if they do not follow proper procedures, even if they are considered to have a legitimate asylum claim.


Press Association

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