German Police Raid Neo-Nazi Group Nationwide

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany (AFP) — German police on Thursday raided sites across the country linked to a far-right group banned by the interior ministry, weeks after an extremist gunman shot dead nine people of immigrant backgrounds.

“Since the early hours, police measures are going on in 10 states” out of Germany’s 16, interior ministry spokesman Steve Alter wrote on Twitter.

Candles and flowers are laid as tribute to the people shot to death in Hanau, Germany, in February. (AP photo/Martin Meissner)

“For the first time, the interior minister has banned a Reichsbuerger (Citizens of the Reich) group,” Alter said.

“Even in these times of crisis, we will fight far-right extremism, racism and anti-Semitism.”

The “United German Peoples and Tribes” organization that was banned Thursday belongs to a wider “Citizens of the Reich” movement fed by conspiracy theories.

Its adherents question the legitimacy of the modern Federal Republic of Germany and have set off armed confrontations with police.

In a 2016 shootout, a Reichsbuerger-linked man killed an officer and wounded two more.

He was sentenced to life in prison.

After a racist gunman shot dead nine people of immigrant backgrounds in the city of Hanau in February, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer declared far-right extremism “the biggest security threat facing Germany” and announced increased police measures.

Seehofer said the far right had left “a trail of blood” in recent months — two people died in an attack on a synagogue in the city of Halle in October and a pro-immigrant politician was murdered at his home in June.

Separately, 12 men were arrested across Germany in February on suspicion of planning attacks on mosques aimed at bringing about “a civil-war-like situation.”

The government has announced hundreds of new jobs for federal police and security services to strengthen surveillance of the far-right scene, and is considering tighter laws on gun ownership.

© Agence France-Presse

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