By Oliver Towfigh Nia
BERLIN (AA) – German police halted more than 50 armed far-right vigilantes over the weekend as they attempted to patrol the Polish border to prevent migrants from entering the country, local media reported Monday.
The right-wing extremist vigilantes were responding to a call by the so-called far-right party “Third Way,” urging its members to halt illegal border crossings near the eastern town of Guben, Berlin-based Der Tagesspiegel newspaper said, citing police.
Police confiscated the weapons -- among them were pepper spray, a bayonet, a machete and batons -- and ordered the suspects who traveled to the Polish border from several German states, including Bavaria, Brandenburg, Saxony, Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, and Berlin, to leave the region.
Reacting to the border incident, the Interior Ministry condemned right-wing extremist border patrols.
“The position is very clear: the state has the monopoly on force,” Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter told media representatives in Berlin.
“In our constitutional state, there is no room for vigilante justice or official behavior by private individuals. Border protection is the sole responsibility of the state,” Alter added.
He stressed that the local police have the situation under control.
Meanwhile, police also said it would step up the patrol, closely cooperating with the federal police that is in charge of the border region.
The German government has deployed an additional 800 police officers at the Polish border to stem the influx of migrants trying to enter the EU via Belarus, according to the Interior Ministry.
For weeks now, people from mostly Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan have been coming to Germany from Poland after they had previously entered Belarus and moved on to the EU.