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Extremism

Germany faces a growing threat from violent extremists

The German domestic intelligence agency has warned of a sharp rise in violence from right- and left-wing groups. A report also found growing numbers of Islamist extremists returning from terror training camps in Syria.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned of an increase in violence linked to political and religious extremists in Germany.

Presenting the annual domestic intelligence agency report on Wednesday in Berlin, de Maiziere said that though the numbers of right- and left-wing extremists in Germany had not grown, there was a notable increase in the brutality of actions by such groups.

De Maiziere spoke of a deplorable trend toward physical violence on both sides of the political spectrum.

Right-wing extremists mostly target foreigners in Germany. However, they now opt for physical aggression more often than in the past, when they often resorted to verbal attacks.

De Maiziere spoke of an increase in attacks on foreigners in Germany by over 20 percent compared to the year before: 473 such cases were recorded in 2013.

Left-wing radicals, on the other hand, go on record not for xenophobic attacks, but for assaulting police officers or security personnel.

"We cannot accept this rise in violence, and do everything to combat it," he said.

The report published by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution shows that the number of members of right- and left-wing groups had remained unchanged compared to 2012, at 9,600 and 27,000 individuals, respectively.

The agency did record, however, a significant rise in young people joining radical religious groups, such as Islamist Salafists.

The report links this rise also to the deteriorating situation in Syria, warning that up to 100 people had returned to Germany after having spent time in terror training camps there.

rg/mkg (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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