Violent Clashes Break Out Between Locals And Refugees In German Town

If Angela Merkel has been waiting for just the right moment when she can unleash the Bundeswehr to "pacify" the unruly public, she may have an opening. According to Deutsche Welle, in the small town of Bautzen in the state of Saxony, a second night of violent clashes broke out between residents and migrants.

According to police reports, "20 refugees and 80 right-wing extremists" got involved in verbal and physical attacks when residents of the town located 50 kilometers northeast of Dresden, chanted on Wednesday evening that the town belonged to Germans. Opposite them, according to Reuters, stood a group of around 20 unaccompanied minors- meaning they are younger than 18 - who are seeking asylum in Germany.

"Police were called at around 20.50 and told that two groups were going at each other ... attacking each other verbally and by throwing bottles, wooden slats and other such things," Uwe Kilz, head of Bautzen's police force, told a news conference.

About 100 police officers tried to break up the confrontation, but also found themselves on the receiving end of the violence: the police formed a chain to separate the two groups and used pepper spray and clubs after asylum seekers threw bottles, wooden slats and other objects at officers.

After police separated the groups, extremists followed the refugees to their housing complexes. Police were then forced to guard the home, instructing the 32 migrant residents not leave. Three further asylum housing complexes also required police guards.

An 18-year-old migrant reportedly suffered stab wounds in the clashes. The ambulance taking him to hospital was subsequently attacked by extremists, who threw stones at it. A second ambulance had to be called to take the man to hospital.

The mayor of Bautzen, Alexander Ahrens, said that he denounced the clashes in his town. "I strongly denounce this violence and would like to stress that I do so regardless of who may have started it," Ahrens said.  Cited by DW, Ahrens told dpa that the level of violence in the town had reached a new level. "Bautzen cannot become a playground for violent right-wing radicals," he said.

But before the mayor, or anyone else blames the "right-wing radicals" it is worth noting that the criminal police have launched an investigation focused on migrants causing bodily harm after throwing glass bottles and pieces of wood at the officers. In the probe the police found that "the altercation was started by the asylum seekers," according to a police statement. The previous evening, a 32-year-old local had sustained injuries after being hit by a bottle. Video material is also being analyzed, in which a number of people already known to the police have been identified.

Meanwhile, as the blame game continues, the situation continues to devolve: Saxony's Interior Minister, Markus Ulbig, has called for greater police presence in the town.  Since last week, Bautzen has imposed bans on the sale of alcohol in the Kornmarkt square, the focal point of recent violence. It is also currently seeking to impose a blanket ban on the sale of alcohol, as well as a 7pm curfew for 30 young migrants living in the town.

Located close to the Czech border, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) east of the city of Dresden, Bautzen has seen repeated clashes between asylum seekers and the radical right, underscoring the growing unrest over Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy.

An arson attack at a local refugee home at the beginning of the year highlighted how the region struggles in coping with the influx of migrants in Germany. Some of the bystanders at the refugee home fire had tried to stop emergency services from accessing the scene. The following month, members of the public verablly abused German President Joachim Gauck during a visit to the town where he spoke with locals about the migrant crisis.

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The incident comes as Chancellor Angela Merkel faces another humiliating electoral loss in Berlin on Sunday, following similar humiliation in her home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 10 days ago, amid widespread criticism for her open-door refugee policy that saw around one million migrants arrive here last year, pushing down her approval ratings and boosting support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany.  Merkel said earlier on Thursday that Germany needed "viable solutions" to integrate refugees into the workforce faster.

As her political career crashes and burns in the aftermath of Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II, it remains to be seen if she hill dare to deploy the army within her own population to "protect the peace" at a time when tensions in Germany society have not been this acute in nearly a century.