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German police raid refugee centre after violent stand-off

© dpa/AFP | Two men are taken away by a policeman after a raid on a refugee centre in Ellwangen, Germany

BERLIN (AFP) - 

German police Thursday raided a refugee centre where they had met violent resistance three days earlier when they tried to pick up a Togolese man for deportation.

Several hundred armoured police searched the facility in Ellwangen, Baden-Wuerttemberg state, during the dawn operation and arrested the 23-year-old rejected asylum seeker, authorities said.

In the early hours of Monday, four police had initially tried to detain the West African man to send him back to Italy, his first EU port of call.

But the officers were forced to beat a retreat when they were confronted by about 150 mostly African migrants displaying "aggressive and threatening behaviour", said a local police spokesman.

The crowd surrounded two police patrol cars and threatened officers until they handed over the keys to the Togo man's handcuffs.

Regional police deputy chief Bernhard Weber said Monday's unrest was "unprecedented" following a mass influx of more than one million asylum seekers since 2015.

Police in Thursday's raid searched the centre for weapons and collected evidence on 27 others who were suspected of having resisted police at the start of the week.

Fifteen of them were to be initially transferred to other holding centres after Thursday's raid, in which police and several migrants suffered minor injuries.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a proponent of tightening German borders and speeding up deportations, described the incident as "a slap in the face for law-abiding citizens".

The head of the German police union DPolG, Rainer Wendt, called for the immediate expulsion of any refugee who has assaulted police, demanding that "they must not enjoy another hour of freedom until they're back in their country of origin".

© 2018 AFP