Suspected arson attack damages refugee center in Germany
A planned refugee center in northern Germany has been seriously damaged in a suspected arson attack in Lower Saxony amid rising anti-refugee sentiments in the European country.
On Saturday, a large fire broke out at the refugee camp under construction in the town of Barsinghausen near Hanover.
Police later discovered multiple gas cylinders at the scene, which raised the suspicion of a deliberate arson attack. According to police sources, the gas cylinders were possibly placed there to create a large explosion.
Firefighters rushed to the scene after being informed by a local resident. The fire was brought under control and there were no reports of casualties.
Police said the fire caused some 100,000 euros (108,000 dollars) worth of damage. An investigation is underway into the incident.
Germany witnessed a surge in the number of asylum seekers entering the country in 2015. More than one million refugees, mostly from crisis-hit countries in the Middle East and North Africa, arrived in the country last year.
The huge refugee influx has put German Chancellor Angela Merkel under domestic pressure and boosted anti-refugee protests in the country. Anti-immigration groups have been targeting the planned refugee shelters across the country.
According to official figures, over 800 attacks on inhabited and uninhabited refugee centers were recorded in 2015.
On December 26, a partially completed refugee shelter in the German village of Schlettau came under an arson attack by unidentified individuals who tossed several Molotov Cocktails at the compound.
Another attack on a refugee center took place almost simultaneously in the city of Dresden. No one was injured in the incident.