Germany bans neo-Nazi group Combat 18, launches raids


  • World
  • Thursday, 23 Jan 2020

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany has banned the neo-Nazi group Combat 18 and raided the homes of its leading members across the country, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

Two hundred officers seized phones, laptops, weapon-related objects, clothing and Nazi relics, the ministry said in a statement.

Last year, Walter Luebcke, a senior local conservative politician known for pro-migrant views, was shot dead, and a man believed to be a far-right sympathiser was arrested on suspicion of murdering him.

Germany was also shocked when two people were shot dead last year near a synagogue in Halle in eastern Germany, while two years ago leaders of the neo-Nazi group NSU were convicted of killing immigrants in a spree that lasted years.

"Today's ban gives a clear signal: right extremism and anti-Semitism have no place in our society," Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in a statement.

"The terror attacks of the NSU, the terrible murder of Walter Luebcke and the act of terror in Halle last year have given us a brutal illustration of the real danger that right-wing extremism poses to our free society," he added.

Combat 18 originated in Britain in the early 1990s. Regional interior ministers in Germany have been calling for a ban for at least a year.

The ministry said the group had been carrying out activities that contravened Germany's constitutional order. It is the 18th extreme right group to have been banned there.

World leaders including German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier gathered in Israel on Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German death camp at Auschwitz.

(Reporting by Paul Carrel and Thomas Escritt; Editing by John Stonestreet and Kevin Liffey)


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