BERLIN (Reuters) - Violent acts by neo-Nazis and other far-right groups in Germany rose 14 percent to 1,600 in 2016, reflecting a steady increase in anti-immigrant sentiment triggered by the arrival of large numbers of migrants since 2014, an intelligence report said.
The annual report by the BfV domestic intelligence agency estimated that some 12,100 people with far-right views in Germany were considered ready to commit acts of violence, an increase of about 300 people, or 2.5 percent, from 2015.
“We see a clear radicalisation in both substance and rhetoric regarding asylum matters from far-right extremists,” the report said, adding that the use of social media sites had sharply increased the proliferation and impact of such groups.
“The danger posed by the far-right extremist scene in Germany remains at a high level,” the report said.
A scandal erupted in May in the German army after police detained an army officer for posing under a false identity as an asylum seeker possibly with a view to staging an attack and blaming it on migrants. The case prompted a search of all German army barracks for Nazi memorabilia.
In March a court sentenced four far-right militants to up to five years in jail for forming a “terrorist association” with racist and anti-Semitic aims and planning to attack refugees.
The total number of “far-right extremist” crimes grew to around 23,555 in 2016, while those with a far-left motivation dropped by 2.2 percent to 9,389, according to police statistics released by the government in April.
The report described as “alarming” growing numbers of far-right individuals with access to explosive materials, including Molotov cocktails and illegal fireworks that could cause serious bodily harm.
The number of people with far-left extremist views reached about 28,500 in 2016, an increase of 7 percent from 2015 and the highest level seen since 2012, the report said. Of those, 8,500 were believed ready to commit violent acts, an increase of 10 percent from the year earlier.
The report cited concerns that the July 7-8 summit of leaders from the 20 leading economies in the city of Hamburg and a national election in Germany set for Sept. 24 could prompt a big rise in far-left violence.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Gareth Jones