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Austria sees 13 attacks on refugee centres in 3 months

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Austria sees 13 attacks on refugee centres in 3 months
Photo: ORF screengrab
11:45 CEST+02:00
There were 13 attacks on refugee centres in Austria in just the first three months of this year, according to the Interior Ministry.

It compares to last year, when there were a total of 25 attacks on centres in the whole of 2015.

“The trend is very clear”, the Interior Ministry spokesperson Karl-Heinz Grundböck told the Austrian Press Agency.

The figure follows a recent suspected arson attack on an unoccupied home for asylum seekers in Altenfelden in Upper Austria that had been due to open just a few days later.

Local residents, NGOs and politicians condemned the arson, with Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz saying in a tweet that he was "deeply affected" by the incident.

Hundreds also turned up to a solidarity event at the site of the burned-out centre earlier this week to show their support for refugees in the the town.

Other incidents where refugee centres were targeted include an unknown culprit firing at an asylum accommodation centre in the city of Klagenfurt with an air rifle in January.

In early February, firecrackers were set off in front of a guest house in the district of Bregenz used to house 80 asylum seekers. No one was injured in the incident, although windows were smashed and the explosion could be felt in nearby buildings.

“This trend apparently continued into the first quarter,” said Grundböck, describing it as “no big surprise” given the divisive debate regarding migration and refugees in the country.

He added however: “There is no justification and zero tolerance for criminal actions.”

Figures released in May by the Interior Ministry showed the number of cases involving right-wing extremism increasing from 1,200 cases in 2014 to 1,690 in 2015, the highest yearly figure ever seen in Austria.

That report also said the number of “extremist acts” from far-right supporters increased from 750 in 2014 to 1,150 in 2015, which included posting hate messages and inciting violence online.

Meanwhile, similar attacks have been occurring in Germany, although the latest fire at a refugee centre appears to have arisen from an internal conflict over the observation of fasting for Ramadan.

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