Chancellor Merkel to address open-door refugee policy following series of attacks

Published July 28th, 2016 - 08:30 GMT
Angela Merkel has repeatedly insisted that German borders remain open to refugees. (AFP/File)
Angela Merkel has repeatedly insisted that German borders remain open to refugees. (AFP/File)

Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold an annual press conference on Thursday following a series of high-profile attacks that have rattled Germany and raised questions about her open-door refugee policy.

Merkel was forced to cut short her summer vacation, and is also holding her annual press event earlier than scheduled.

Three of four attacks since July 18 were carried out by asylum seekers, and two of them were claimed by the Daesh extremist group.

They included an axe-and-knife attack on a Bavarian commuter train, a mass shooting in Munich, a knife attack in Reutlingen and a suicide bombing in Ansbach.

Merkel's ratings dipped earlier this year amid concerns about the 1.1 million refugees who arrived in Germany in 2015, but soared again after Britain's vote to leave the European Union in June and a coup attempt in Turkey earlier this month.

The Syrian asylum seeker who injured 15 people on Sunday when he blew himself up outside a music festival venue in the southern German town of Ansbach, had been due for deportation to Bulgaria for more than a year.

The attacks have reignited a debate about how to deal with criminal asylum seekers and about the policing of Germany's borders.

Officials in Bavaria - where three of the attacks took place - are calling for tougher screening of refugees and the reversal of a government policy not to deport people to conflict zones.

Merkel has repeatedly insisted that German borders remain open and that crimes perpetrated by individual asylum seekers should not lead to blanket suspicion of refugees.

The recent violence has inflamed misgivings within Merkel's own conservative political bloc about her promise of sanctuary to all those fleeing the civil war in Syria.

Germany's right-wing political upstart Alternative for Germany (AfD) has seized on the upsurge in violence to accuse Merkel of making the country a target for terrorists.

The German leader is also expected to address the unrest in Turkey following an attempted coup earlier this month and its impact on a migration deal between the European Union and Ankara.

Merkel's last annual press conference was held on August 31, 2015.

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