• Arsonists strike asylum shelters 75 times during last year
  • Merkel’s interior minister cites ‘worrisome’ far-right trend

Hate crimes against asylum shelters in Germany increased more than fivefold last year to an average of almost three per day amid the country’s biggest refugee influx since World War II, according to the government.

The 894 attacks include 75 cases of arson, compared with five in 2014, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency said in its annual report published Tuesday in Berlin.

“It’s worrisome that xenophobic agitation has reached mainstream society,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said in an e-mailed statement. “The risk that new far-right terrorist structures will emerge is growing.”

About 1 million asylum seekers arrived in Germany in 2015, compared with about 202,000 the year before. The surge eroded Merkel’s approval rating and spurred the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party, which has as much as 14 percent support in national polls. The flow has ebbed since some European countries put up border restrictions and the European Union reached a refugee deal with Turkey in March.

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