Germany bans far-right group, raids leaders' homes

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany banned a far-right group on Thursday and police in 10 states raided the homes of 21 of its most senior members, the interior minister said, stepping up a crackdown on anti-Semitic organizations after deadly attacks by racist gunmen.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said he had banned “United German Peoples and Tribes”, the first such action against a group with links to the Reichsbuerger – “Reich Citizens” – network that claims allegiance to the pre-war German Reich.

“Right-wing extremism, racism and anti-Semitism are being fought relentlessly even in times of crisis,” Seehofer said in a statement, adding that the group had engaged in “verbal militancy” against civil servants and their families.

Germany stepped up monitoring of far-right groups and sympathizers after a shooting rampage at shisha bars near Frankfurt last month by a racist gunman who shot dead nine people and attacks in October by an anti-Semitic gunman in the city of Halle that killed two.

The domestic intelligence agency last week stepped up its monitoring of a radical wing of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the agency’s chief said that right-wing extremism was the biggest threat to German democracy.

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