German security officials warn of far-right border patrols

BERLIN (AP) — German security officials are warning far-right groups not to carry out vigilante patrols along the country’s eastern border with Poland, amid a rise in the number of migrants crossing the frontier illegally in recent weeks.

Extremist groups including the far-right “Third Way” and “Free Saxons” party have been using social media to recruit people for their patrols.

“The state has the monopoly on the legitimate use of force,” said the head of the domestic intelligence agency in Saxony state, Dirk-Martin Christian.

He said the move echoes tactics used by right-wing extremists during the refugee influx in 2015 and 2016, as well as recent anti-lockdown protests.

German authorities have reported an uptick in the number of people illegally entering the country through Poland in recent weeks. On some days, officers have picked up several hundred people a day.

Many of those stopped are Iraqi and Syrians who have flown to Belarus and then managed to cross illegally into Poland, from where they made their way to Germany in the hope of applying for asylum.

Jens Schobranski, a spokesman for Germany’s federal police, said vigilante patrols are hampering officers from doing their work.

“Border surveillance is the job of the state and we are performing that task,” he told The Associated Press.

“These stunts by people with right-wing attitudes are absolutely unacceptable and seem intended to undermine the state’s monopoly of the use of force,” Schobranski added. “We’re taking decisive steps against it.”

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