German official promises culprits will ‘pay’ for arson

BERLIN (AP) — Those responsible for a suspected arson attack on a German hotel intended to house refugee families will be found and held to account, a top security official in eastern Germany said on Saturday. .

Police said windows were smashed and a fire broke out shortly after 5 a.m. Friday at the Spreehotel on the outskirts of Bautzen in what authorities believe was an anti-foreigner attack. Four employees staying in the building managed to escape unharmed and the fire was extinguished.

Armin Schuster, the interior minister for the state of Saxony, said he believed the attackers intended to “devastate” the entire building, which was to house an initial group of 30 refugees from countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Russia from next week.

Schuster said every effort would be made to find the culprits and insisted they did not represent German society.

“On the contrary! They will pay for it,” he told German news agency dpa.

The former hotel was previously used to house refugees between 2015 and 2017, and was the target of an arson attempt in 2016. Bautzen saw tensions between migrants and locals erupt that year in amid an influx into Germany of people seeking refuge from the conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The city, located east of Dresden near the borders with Poland and the Czech Republic, has become a stronghold of the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

Last week, a fire destroyed a shelter for Ukrainian refugees on Germany’s Baltic coast in what authorities say could have been arson.


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James R. Rhodes