Germany vows crackdown after brutal New Year’s violence targeting cops, firefighters

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Germany vowed to crack down on people responsible for violence around the weekend’s New Year celebrations, in which dozens of police, paramedics, and firefighters were injured.

“The government, and of course the chancellor as well, condemns these at times massive attacks in the strongest possible terms,” Christiane Hoffmann, a spokeswoman for Chancellor Olaf Scholz, said on Monday at the regular government news conference in Berlin.

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“The state will not tolerate that people who are celebrating peacefully and personnel who are doing their duty are attacked in this way,” she added.

In Berlin alone, around 1,300 extra police were deployed and more than 100 people were detained for arson offenses, violations of explosives regulations, breach of the peace, and assault of law-enforcement officers. Eighteen policemen were injured in the capital, one seriously, and 15 firefighters and paramedics required treatment.

“Attacking police officers, paramedics, and firefighters must be punished to the full extent of the law,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a tweet. “The people who protect us all must be able to fully trust that the rule of law will also protect them,” she said, adding that she was left “stunned and angry by the attacks.”

While there was no evidence that the incidents on Saturday night were politically motivated, German authorities have repeatedly highlighted the growing menace of violent extremism at both ends of the political spectrum, warning of a threat to the nation’s democratic order.

Last month, police carried out the biggest-ever raid targeting right-wing extremists, saying the nationwide operation thwarted a domestic terrorist group’s plans to violently overthrow the government.

In one incident in Berlin in the early hours of Sunday morning, about 200 masked assailants attacked firefighters attempting to extinguish burning garbage cans blocking the road, according to a statement from the city fire brigade.

Laws to protect police and rescue services have been tightened in recent years and the New Year’s incidents show “how necessary that was,” Faeser said. “Now this legislation must be applied and enforced all thoroughly as possible against extremists and violent criminals.”

Read more: Germany arrests members of far-right group suspected of planning to overthrow state

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