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Racist crime up sharply in east Germany's Saxony state

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Berlin (AFP)

Far-right and racist crime rose sharply last year in eastern Germany's ex-communist state of Saxony, new data showed on Thursday.

Reported offences -- including mainly assaults but also threats and arson attacks -- increased by 38 percent to 317, with a total of 481 victims, said victim's support group RAA Sachsen.

Saxony is home to the city of Chemnitz where a German man's fatal stabbing, allegedly by asylum seekers, sparked mass protests in September which saw neo-Nazis rampaging through the streets targeting people of foreign appearance.

RAA Sachsen, which offers counselling services for victims of hate crimes, said it counted 79 attacks motivated by rightwing extremism in Chemnitz -- four times higher than the previous year.

The state's two biggest cities, Dresden and Leipzig, each saw 60 attacks, including racially-motivated assaults as well as crimes targeting leftwing activists, journalists and members of sexual minorities, the group said.

In one incident in April, a 27-year-old homosexual man, Christopher W., was murdered by three far-right assailants who had insulted him for being gay.

And last weekend, eight drunken men attacked and injured a 22-year-old man from West Africa, Leipzig police said on Thursday.

Eastern Germany, which still lags behind the west in terms of jobs and prosperity some 30 years on from Germany's reunification, has become a hotbed for far-right extremism.

It has the strongest level of support for the anti-immigration AfD party which has led opposition to Chancellor Angela Merkel's 2015 decision to keep the borders open at the height of Europe's migrant crisis.

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