Germany migrants: Residents battle asylum seekers in Bautzen

Asylum seekers (pictured) were accused of taking over the central square in Bautzen. PHOTO: AP

Residents have clashed with asylum seekers in a town in eastern Germany that has become a flashpoint for anti-refugee sentiment.

Some 80 locals, described by police as far-right, brawled with 20 young asylum seekers in Bautzen.

The asylum seekers were chased to their hostel and put under police guard, BBC said.

The mayor said the town had to avoid becoming a playground for the far right. A curfew has been imposed on the young asylum seekers.

Anti-migrant tensions have been mounting in Bautzen this year.

Locals cheered when a building due to house migrants was set on fire in February.

The following month, President Joachim Gauck was verbally abused when he visited Bautzen to discuss the influx of refugees in Germany.

Bautzen and the nearby town of Niedergurig are home to four asylum shelters.

Bautzen is 60km (38 miles) east of Dresden, where the “anti-Islamisation” Pegida movement began.

Since the arrival last year of 1.1 million irregular migrants and refugees in Germany, some areas, particularly eastern states, have seen a rise in anti-migrant violence as well as support for the anti-Islam AfD party.

Each fresh outbreak of refugee-related violence is potentially a political problem for Chancellor Angela Merkel. Some voters say large-scale migration could destabilise German society.

As a result the chancellor’s conservative coalition has been haemorrhaging voters to the insurgent anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. That’s a particular worry given that this weekend voters in Berlin region go to the polls, and next year Mrs Merkel’s national government faces re-election.

But many Germans from other parts of Germany are more likely to blame the clashes on racist sentiment, rather than see it as a product of the chancellor’s welcoming stance on refugees.

That is because this beautiful area of ex-communist eastern Germany already has a rather ugly reputation for neo-Nazi support and right-wing extremist violence.