Another German politician is attacked as concerns rise over violence ahead of EU elections in June

BERLIN (AP) — A prominent Berlin politician was violently assaulted and suffered injuries to her head and neck, police said Wednesday, in the latest attack on elected officials that raises concern over rising political violence in Germany.

Franziska Giffey, the city’s top economic official, a former mayor and an ex-federal minister, was attacked at an event in a Berlin library on Tuesday by a man who approached her from behind and hit her with a bag containing a hard device, police said.

Giffey was taken to a hospital and treated for head and neck pain, police said. A 74-year-old man was detained and police searched his home, police said. They said the suspect was known to police, but did not give any indication for a motive.

Berlin Mayor Kai Wegner strongly condemned the attack.

“Anyone who attacks politicians is attacking our democracy,” said Wegner, according to German news agency dpa. “We will not tolerate this. We will oppose all forms of violence, hatred and agitation and protect our democracy.”

Giffey wrote on Instagram that “we live in a free and democratic country in which everyone is free to express their opinion … and yet there is a clear limit. And that is violence against people who hold a different opinion, for whatever reason, in whatever form.”

“They are a transgression of boundaries that we as a society must resolutely oppose,” she said.

Later on Wednesday, Giffey, protected by several bodyguards, told reporters at a public event in Berlin that she was feeling fine but that “we also have to make it possible for us to live in a country where those who bear social and political responsibility can move freely.”

Last week, a candidate from the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz was beaten up in the eastern city of Dresden while campaigning for next month’s election for the European Parliament and had to undergo surgery.

Police detained four suspects, aged between 17 and 18, and said that the same group had apparently attacked a Greens party worker minutes before they attacked Matthias Ecke. At least one of the teens is said to be linked to far-right groups, security officials said.

Also on Tuesday, a 47-year-old Green Party politician was attacked by two people while putting up election posters in Dresden, dpa reported.

The incidents have raised political tensions in Germany.

Both government and opposition parties say their members and supporters have faced a wave of physical and verbal attacks in recent months, and have called on police to step up protection for politicians and election rallies.

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