On Saturday evening the four suspects allegedly physically assaulted 12 random people while under the influence of alcohol. One of the victims had to be taken to hospital to be treated for head wounds.
The suspects are all teenage asylum seekers between the ages of 17 and 19 from Afghanistan and Iran. Although they fled the scene, each of them has since been detained and is being held in custody while police further investigate the incident.
According to a report in the Mittelbayerische Zeitung, far-right extremists have started patrolling the streets of the town since the attacks as part of so-called “neighbourhood defence groups”.
The mayor of Amberg confirmed to the newspaper that men wearing yellow vests had been sent to the city by the extremist NPD party.
“I can completely understand the insecurity that some people in Amberg are feeling right now,” mayor Michael Cerny said. “But this hatred and the threats of violence now coming from all over the country go too far.”
Bavarian politicians were swift to condemn the attacks by the young asylum seekers. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who was until recently head of the Bavarian CSU party, said that he had been “shaken up” by the news. “This excess of violence is unacceptable,” he added.
Seehofer’s deputy at the Interior Ministry, Stephan Mayer, said that there would be consequences for the country’s refugee policies.
“Any asylum seekers who commits a criminal offence, especially if they commit crimes against life and limb, against property or sexual self-determination, has forfeited their right to hospitality and must leave Germany immediately,” Mayer told Bild newspaper.
“In order to protect the population, perpetrators of violence should also be able to be placed under maximum control – for example through residence obligations, reporting obligations and electronic ankle restraints,” he added.
The attack in Amberg was one of two violent incidents over the New Year period which drew attention to rising levels of tension between Germans and the large population of migrants/refugees that the country has taken in in recent years.
In the small town of Bottrop in North Rhine Westphalia a German man is suspected of having driven a car into a crowd of people on New Year’s Eve with the intention of harming foreigners, police believe. Among the injured were a family from Syria and a mother and infant son from Afghanistan.
The CSU's parliamentary leader, Alexander Dobrindt, said he “sharply condemns” the original street violence as well as the fact that “certain extremist groups” were seeking to instrumentalise the attacks.
A spokeswoman for Merkel had Wednesday condemned the assaults in Amberg as well as the xenophobic attack in Bottrop on New Year's Eve.