German police had to call in reinforcement, deploying scores of officers to quell mayhem in a reception center in country’s south, where a group of migrants faced off with security personnel.
A row between migrants in one of the reception centers escalated into open violence early Tuesday as people living in the shelter attacked local security staff that tried to intervene, police announced. A group of rioters then barricaded themselves in the building, forcing the security workers to call the police.
However, several local police squads that initially arrived at the scene located in the Bavarian town of Bamberg also failed to handle the situation. The officers were pelted with paving stones and had to call for backup.
As “numerous police detachments” from neighboring departments came to rescue, the police force at the scene amassed to some 100 officers. Law enforcement besieged the housing facility, which meanwhile caught fire.
The blaze forced the migrants to flee the building, allowing officers to detain eight rioters. Police also had to forcefully subdue another one, who remained holed up in the facility. The firefighters later managed to quickly extinguish the flames while operating under heavy police guard.
Nine people were treated over smoke inhalation following the incident. One officer and one migrant also received light injuries in the mayhem. The nine suspects were charged with a “serious breach of public order” and arson as well as some other offenses, according to police. All those detained were identified as Eritreans.
The damage inflicted by the chaos amounted to €100,000 ($113,000), authorities announced. It is not the first time the center, which currently hosts 1,268 people, hit the media headlines in Germany. Just weeks ago, a roof of one of its housing facilities partially burned down in a large-scale fire. While the exact reason of the incident was not revealed so far, the damage caused by the blaze reached staggering €2 million ($2.26mn).
The troubled site is part of a compromise solution hammered out in a hard-fought battle over migration policy between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer in summer. The large facilities designed to house thousands of migrants for the period while their cases are processed by the German authorities became known as ‘Anker’ centers – German for ‘anchor’, and shortened from ‘arrival, decision, and repatriation’.
The government hoped the new centers would ease tensions but their plan received a cold welcome, particularly from the locals, who were concerned about a potential “big burden” for the community and a possible crime surge.