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CRIME

Probe underway after Bremen AfD leader seriously injured in targeted gang attack

An investigation is underway after Frank Magnitz, head of the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in Bremen, was seriously injured in what's thought to be a "politically motivated" gang attack, police said Tuesday.

Probe underway after Bremen AfD leader seriously injured in targeted gang attack
Frank Magnitz of the AfD. Photo: DPA

Magnitz, who is chairman of the the anti-immigration AfD in Bremen, in the north of the country, and a member of parliament in Germany, was assaulted in the city centre on Monday afternoon. Police said the attack took place in front of the Theater am Goetheplatz at around 5.20pm.

“Given the victim's work, we believe that this is a politically motivated act,” police said.

The AfD party in Bremen published a shocking photo that showed the injuries. In the picture, Magnitz is unconscious on a hospital bed, his face bleeding and swollen with a gash on his forehead.

The statement by AfD Bremen said three people with their faces covered had carried out the attack. Magnitz had attended a New Year's reception hosted by local newspaper the Weser-Kurier before the assault, party officials said.

“They hit him with a piece of wood until he was unconscious and then kicked him on the ground,” a statement from the party said, adding that a construction worker had intervened to stop the assault.

The party said it would be watching closely how politicians react to this attack. “Today is a black day for democracy in Germany,” the statement added.

“The state executive committee and the members of the AfD state association are shocked,” continued the statement. “We wish Frank Magnitz a good and quick recovery.”

AfD politician Jörg Meuthen said on Twitter that Magnitz was “beaten half to death”. He added that he was “devastated” and described it as a “cowardly and repugnant attack”.

Police are investigating and urged anyone with information to come forward.

The attack was condemned by opposition politicians and commentators, including Cem Özdemir of the Green party. He said on Twitter that he hoped the perpetrators would be caught.

“There is no justification whatsoever for violence,” even against the AfD, he added. “Those who fight with hate only allow hate to win in the end.”

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of the SPD said on Twitter: “Violence must never be a means of political confrontation – regardless of who or what the motives are for it. There is no justification for this.” 

Johannes Kahrs, an MP from the Social Democrats, junior partners in the ruling coalition, said “violence is never acceptable” and that “extremism in any form is rubbish”. He wished Magnitz a quick recovery.

Last week, an explosive device detonated in a rubbish bin damaged an AfD office in Döbeln, Saxony. Police reportedly arrested three men from Döbeln but they were later released. Authorities said there was not sufficient evidence to detain them in custody.

The AfD, which has a strong anti-immigration stance, entered Germany's parliament with almost 13 percent of the vote in September 2017.

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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