CHEMNITZ, Germany (AP) — Authorities in the eastern German city of Chemnitz braced for rival protests Monday night amid tensions over the killing of a German man for which an Iraqi and a Syrian man have been arrested on charges of manslaughter.
Prosecutor Christine Muecke told reporters that a German man was injured and then died after a verbal confrontation early Sunday had escalated. Two men were taken into custody in connection with the killing — a 22-year-old Syrian and a 21 year-old Iraqi — and they are both being held on suspicion of manslaughter, she said.
She refused to give further details about the suspects or the victim.
The killing prompted spontaneous protests by hundreds of people late Sunday in Chemnitz, a city where almost a quarter of its residents voted for the far-right Alternative for Germany party last year. Videos posted on social media appeared to show far-right protesters threatening and chasing passers-by.
Of the 800 people who took to the streets, about 50 were involved in violence and attacked police officers with bottles and stones, police chief Sonja Penzel said.
A Syrian teenager and an Afghan teenager were attacked in separate incidents but were not seriously hurt and a 30-year-old Bulgarian was also threatened, she said.
Penzel said police are still evaluating video footage and called for any witnesses to the violence to come forward.
Police presence was heavy on the streets ahead of renewed protests planned by both far-right and left-wing groups Monday night.
“We will not abandon the streets to violent offenders and those spreading chaos,” said state Interior Minister Roland Woeller.
Earlier in the day, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert strongly condemned Sunday’s violence.
“What was seen yesterday in parts of Chemnitz and what was recorded on video has no place in our country,” Seibert told reporters in Berlin.
“People ganging up, chasing people who look different from them or who come from elsewhere … is something we won’t tolerate,” he said. “This has no place in our cities and I can say for the German government that we condemn this in the sharpest possible manner.”
Seibert also criticized a far-right lawmaker who had suggested that German authorities were unable to protect citizens.
“There is no place in Germany for vigilantism, for groups that want to spread hatred on the streets, for intolerance and racism,” said Seibert.