German leaders visit refugee homes following neo-Nazi riots

BERLIN, Aug 26 (AP) — German President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel were visiting shelters for asylum-seekers Wednesday to express support following an outburst of anti-foreigner violence over the weekend.

Gauck went to a reception center for asylum-seekers in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, where he praised students, doctors and others who had volunteered to help refugees there and elsewhere across the country.

"They want to help, they want to show that there's a bright Germany full of light, as opposed to the impression we get of a dark Germany when we hear about attacks on asylum seekers," Gauck said.

Merkel planned to meet with refugees, aid workers and local officials at a shelter in Heidenau, near Dresden, that had been at the center of neo-Nazi riots.

Dozens of police were injured when a far-right mob hurled bottles and fireworks at officers in an attempt to prevent asylum seekers from moving into the former hardware store at the weekend.

Germany has seen a surge in refugees coming to the country this year, with officials predicting the number could reach 800,000 by the end of 2015.

While most Germans have been welcoming to the refugees, a minority has vocally opposed them. Attacks against refugees and asylum centers roughly doubled to 202 during the first half of the year, including eight cases of arson.

Police in Parchim in eastern Germany arrested two intruders with knives entering a refugee home in Parchim in east Germany late Tuesday. The same night, a man threw a burning object at a planned home for 56 refugees in Leipzig. A mattress caught fire, but it was quickly extinguished, the German news agency dpa reported.

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