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Most Germans don't blame Merkel's policy for Islamist attacks - poll | Reuters

BERLIN Most Germans do not blame the government's expansive refugee policy for two Islamist attacks last month, an opinion poll showed on Wednesday.

But police report that violence against refugee centres remains widespread, suggesting the arrival of large numbers of migrants - 1.1 million of whom reached Germany last year - has done nothing to ease social tensions.

The poll by Forsa, to be published in Thursday's Stern magazine, showed 69 percent of respondents saw no direct link between the arrival of a record number of mainly Muslim asylum seekers and the two attacks claimed by the Islamic State group.

A Syrian whose application had been rejected and was facing deportation to Bulgaria was killed in a failed suicide attack on July 24 in the Bavarian town of Ansbach. There were no other fatalities.

Six days earlier, police shot dead a 17-year-old asylum seeker believed from either Afghanistan or Pakistan in Wuerzburg, also in Bavaria, after he attacked five people with an axe.

That violence, as well as two other fatal assaults not claimed by militant groups, put the spotlight back on the migration policy of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who gained in popularity after Britain voted in June to leave the European Union and has since defended her refugee policy.

The Forsa poll, which questioned 1,007 people on July 28 and July 29, showed 28 percent of respondents believed that policy, which mainly benefited migrants fleeing wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, was to blame for the attacks.

Among supporters of the anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) that number rose to 78 percent. Support for the AfD rose by 2 percentage points to 12 percent after the attacks, a separate poll last month showed.

In June, German officials reported a 42-percent rise in far-right violence in 2015, including many attacks targeted against refugees.

On Wednesday, the BKA federal police agency said it had logged 665 attacks so far this year against migrant accommodation, roughly on a par with the 1,031 incidents reported in 2015.

A BKA spokeswoman said it was unclear if the number of arson and other attacks had spiked after the two Islamist attacks, but security and intelligence sources reported a noticeable uptick in verbal aggression against asylum-seekers.

On July 23 a deranged German-Iranian teenager shot dead nine people in Munich before killing himself, and a day later a machete-wielding Syrian refugee killed a woman in a town near Stuttgart. Neither of those attacks was claimed by Islamists.

(Reporting by Holger Hansen and Andrea Shalal)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Published Date: Aug 04, 2016 00:15 AM | Updated Date: Aug 04, 2016 00:15 AM

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