Police raid German leftist 'vigilantes'
German police on Tuesday swooped on alleged far-left vigilantes accused of mounting attacks against neo-Nazis in the eastern state of Saxony, prosecutors said.
Authorities raided 20 homes and businesses in seven cities and towns including Dresden and Leipzig as part of a probe against 16 men and a woman suspected of founding a criminal organisation.
"The proceedings follow violent attacks by the suspects against people linked with the right end of the political spectrum," the public prosecutor's office in Dresden said in a statement.
"The attacks by the accused were by surprise, targeted and in part extremely brutal."
Prosecutors suspect the group was behind two particularly violent assaults against the far right in Dresden in recent years.
In October 2009, up to 20 masked assailants beat up three right-wing extremists coming from a demonstration in Leipzig. One of the victims was critically injured.
And in August 2010, a group armed with baseball bats stalked and then brutalised two men who had allegedly attacked a left-wing commune.
Neo-Nazi marches in Germany frequently meet with large counterprotests, some of which draw a hard core of violent leftist demonstrators who seek direct clashes with the skinheads.
© 2011 AFP