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Berlin and Hamburg attacks an anarchist 'declaration of war'

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Berlin and Hamburg attacks an anarchist 'declaration of war'
Police cars damaged in Hamburg. Photo: DPA
17:03 CET+01:00
Anarchists attacks on police stations and political offices in Berlin and Hamburg overnight were a “declaration of war” on the state, head of the German Police Union (DPoIG) told The Local on Friday.

Unknown perpetrators, assumed to be left-wing extremists, threw Molotov cocktails, paint bombs and cobblestones at Berlin’s Treptow district Federal Criminal Police (BKA) office overnight. Meanwhile local offices for the centre-left Social Democrats and the conservative Christian Democrats were also vandalised with anti-war graffiti.

Around the same time in Hamburg, about 10 masked perpetrators attacked a police precinct in the Schanzenviertel neighbourhood, setting a police cruiser alight, damaging other police cars and breaking windows with stones.

On Friday afternoon the Berliner Morgenpost also reported that a southern wing of the Chancellory had also been vandalised with three Christmas tree decoration bulbs full of paint.

Though no one was injured in either of the attacks they are a sign of a “new escalation in the spiral of violence,” DPoIG leader Rainer Wendt told The Local.

According to his assessment, the attacks were coordinated between a growing network of anarchists between the two big cities.

“The attacks were anything but spontaneous, and executed in an almost professional manner,” he said.

The Police Union took the incidents so seriously on Friday that they encouraged the conference of state interior ministers, currently underway in Bremen, to take immediate action, hardening criminal prison sentences for attacks on officers and increasing police personnel.

But Wendt reported that police demands have so far gone unheeded.

“They've done nothing," he said. "We don’t have enough police to conduct a good surveillance of these groups. We need to take them very seriously. They are prepared to kill people. It’s pure coincidence that no officers were killed last night, but we fear that this could still be ahead of us.”

Anarchist violence has been increasing in Berlin and Hamburg for several years, with more reported clashes during demonstrations with police and against neo-Nazi groups, in addition to property damage associated with anti-gentrification sentiments.

An 84-page study presented by Berlin Interior Minister Ehrhart Körting this November detailed left-wing violence in the German capital, describing the anarchists as “willing to hazard the consequences of major property damage and severe injury to people.”

In 2009, some 125 cars – many of them luxury status-symbol models – were purposely burned by so-called Autonomen in Berlin. The number has more than doubled since last year, when 72 cars were targeted. Police in Hamburg reported 150 burned cars – 16 of which were proven to be politically motivated. This number was up from a number insignificant enough not to have been reported the year before, news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Friday.

“There is lots of talk when it comes to their alleged goals. Gentrification, for example, is a catch word in Berlin,” Wendt told The Local. “Allegedly they don’t want the rich to move into their city districts. I think that’s all wrong. They don’t have any goals at all aside from blind hate against the state and order.”

According to daily Berliner Morgenpost on Friday, left-wing extremists issued a statement of admission for the Thursday night attacks on the Berlin political offices in Berlin’s Charlottenburg and Zehlendorf districts. The statement, sent to a CDU parliamentary group email address, explained that the attacks were an answer to the Bundestag’s Thursday vote to extend their mandate to provide troops for the NATO operation in Afghanistan. The email accused the politicians of being “warmongers,” and ended with the threat, “There is no safe place!”, the paper reported.

Police are investigating a possible connection between these attacks and those on the police and customs property in Hamburg and Berlin, but Wendt said without government support, such incidents will continue to occur.

“The investigation goes on, but I have little hope it will be successful,” he said. “This is a declaration of the war on the police and on the state.”

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