Merkel to visit Chemnitz after murder, growing unrest

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit the eastern city Chemnitz, scene in recent weeks of racist outbursts, following the stabbing of a German allegedly by refugees.

Merkel to visit Chemnitz after murder, growing unrest
The right-wing group Pro Chemnitz gathered in the city on Thursday. Photo: DPA

The veteran leader had “gladly accepted” an invitation from Chemnitz mayor Barbara Ludwig when the two spoke by phone, a spokesperson for city hall told AFP.

Merkel will most likely lead a citizens' dialogue on immigration in October, reported Spiegel Online on Wednesday.

The Saxon city of around 240,000 people has seen a few federal politicians show their faces since a 35-year-old local man was stabbed to death, allegedly by asylum seekers, followed by a surge of violent right-wing protests.

Last Friday, Families Minister Franziska Giffey visited the city both to visit the memorial site of the victim and speak out against the unrest. She has called for a law to improve education on democracy among younger people.

SEE ALSO: Families Minister Franziska Giffey becomes first government official to visit site of Chemnitz stabbing

A third suspect

Two suspects, an Iraqi and a Syrian, are in police custody following the killing, while a city court on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for a third man, another Iraqi.

Far-right groups and thousands of local citizens took to the streets in the days after the stabbing, with a number of participants attacking people who looked foreign, and showing the illegal Nazi salute.

The Chemnitz knife attack is the latest in a series of violent crimes by
refugees that have garnered massive media attention across the world and stoked anger at Merkel's decision not to close Germany's borders to more than one million migrants and refugees who arrived since 2015.

Such spotlighted cases helped propel far-right anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) into parliament last year and made it a leading political force in formerly communist eastern states like Saxony.

The announcement of Merkel's visit came one day after 65,000 people turned out at a rock concert in Chemnitz against racism that went off without incident.

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One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

A 21-year-old gunman opened fire at a secondary school in northern Germany on Thursday, badly injuring a female member of staff before being arrested, police said.

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

The incident happened at the Lloyd Gymnasium school in the centre of Bremerhaven, a city on Germany’s North Sea coast, on Thursday morning. 

“The armed person has been arrested and is in police custody,” police said in a statement. The injured woman was not a pupil, police said.

They said the suspect had entered the school building and fired at a female member of staff, who was “seriously injured”.

The alarm was quickly raised and police said they detained the suspect at a nearby location soon after and had seized his weapon at the scene.

The injured woman is being treated in hospital.

A video circulating on social media and German news sites appeared to capture the moment the gunman was arrested.

A man dressed in black is seen lying face down on a street corner, with a weapon next to him, before being handcuffed by officers.

But there was no immediate confirmation of reports the alleged weapon was a crossbow.

Bremerhaven police tweeted in the morning that a large deployment was under way in the city centre and asked residents to avoid the Mayor-Martin-Donandt square and surrounding streets, in the vicinity of the Lloyd secondary school.

Local news site Nord24 said a school pupil had heard shots being fired and called the police. Pupils barricaded themselves in their classrooms.

Police launched a large-scale operation and cordoned off the area around the school while they carried out inquiries. 

By mid-afternoon, police said special forces had completed their search and the last people had left the building.

Authorities set up a phone hotline for concerned parents. Many parents had gathered in front of the school after being alerted by their children.

Pupils and staff are receiving psychological counselling.

Local media said only around 200 people were on the school grounds, fewer than normal because of exam times.

In a separate incident on Thursday, police in the eastern city of Leipzig said they had detained a 21-year-old student still at secondary school after being tipped off by Snapchat that he had posted pictures of himself with a gun and made unspecified threats.

The US social media platform alerted German authorities, prompting Leipzig police to take action.

 A police spokesman said that the 21-year-old did not pose a real threat, however, and only possessed an airsoft gun, a replica firearm that uses non-lethal, usually plastic, pellets.

‘Strict gun laws’

School shootings are relatively rare in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. But a recent spate has rattled the population.

Last week, investigators in Germany’s city of Essen said they foiled a school bomb assault, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a “Nazi terror attack”.

Police in Essen stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

In January, an 18-year-old student opened fire in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany, killing a young woman and
injuring three others before fleeing the scene and turning the weapon on himself.

In 2009, a former pupil killed nine students, three teachers and three passers-by in a school shooting at Winnenden, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The gunman then killed himself.

In 2002, a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, shot dead 16 people including 12 teachers and two students at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He too then killed himself.

The Winnenden and Erfurt massacres were carried out with legal weapons and spurred Germany to tighten gun laws.

The country currently requires anyone under 25 to pass a psychiatric exam before applying for a gun licence.