By FRANK JORDANS
BERLIN (AP) — German police have arrested seven men on suspicion of forming a “far-right terrorist organization” in the eastern city of Chemnitz and planning to carry out attacks against foreigners and political enemies, officials said Monday.
Six of the men, all German citizens ranging in age from 20 to 30, were arrested Monday by tactical police units in Saxony, the state in which Chemnitz is located, and Bavaria, federal prosecutors said in a statement.
The men are alleged to have formed a group calling itself “Revolution Chemnitz,” together with a seventh suspect who was arrested in a separate case last month. The seventh man, identified only as 31-year-old German citizen Christian K. for privacy reasons, is alleged to have been the group’s leader. He was arrested last month.
Prosecutors said the men wanted to “carry out violent and armed attacks against foreigners and political enemies” as part of a plan to overthrow Germany’s democratic order.
Five of the men — Christian K. and four others identified only as Sten E., Martin H., Marcel W. and Sven W. — allegedly attacked several foreigners in the center of Chemnitz on Sept. 14, armed with bottles, weighted “sap” gloves and an electric stun device. Prosecutors said the attack was a “test run” for another attack the men planned for Oct. 3, Germany’s national unity day.
A spokeswoman for federal prosecutors, Frauke Koehler, said there was no evidence to date that the group was motivated by the killing of a German man in Chemnitz in August. Anti-foreigner violence erupted in the city in the days following the killing. A 23-year-old Syrian is being held on suspicion of manslaughter and an Iraqi man is still being sought by police in that case.
A kosher restaurant was also attacked on the sidelines of one protest, with masked men throwing stones and bottles and yelling “Jewish pig, get out of Germany.”
German Justice Minister Katarina Barley cited the arrest as further evidence of the threat posed by far-right extremists, after the conviction of members of the Freital Group and the National Socialist Underground earlier this year.
“If the allegations are further substantiated, then investigators will have succeeded in conducting an important blow against far-right terrorism,” she told the Funke newspaper group.