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German police foil ‘anti-vaxxer murder plot’ against state premier

Politicians, media outlets and public institutions received letters against mandatory vaccination measures and included a wrapped chunk of meat, broadcaster ARD reported.
Image: German police conduct raids in Saxony over 'anti-vaxxer murder plot'
Police carry items during raids in several locations in Dresden on Wednesday.Matthias Reitschel / Reuters

BERLIN — Police in eastern Germany said on Wednesday they had uncovered a plot by anti-vaccination activists in Saxony to murder the state’s premier, adding to concerns about increasingly violent protests over plans for mandatory vaccinations.

The plan to kill Michael Kretschmer, leader of a state in which Covid-19 infection rates are among the highest in the country and vaccination rates are the lowest, had been discussed in a group chat on messaging platform Telegram, police said.

President of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer. Bernd von Jutrczenka / Picture Alliance via Getty Images file

Members of the group, called “Dresden Offlinevernetzung”, or Dresden offline network, had suggested in messages on Telegram that they might be in possession of firearms and crossbows, Saxony police said on Twitter.

After searches of several sites in Dresden, police said “the initial suspicion is confirmed”.

Protests against new restrictions on the unvaccinated and plans to make vaccinations compulsory for some groups in Germany have recently become more violent, with increased attacks on doctors, politicians and journalists.

Vaccinations will become mandatory from March 16 for people working in hospitals, nursing homes and other medical practices.

More than a dozen politicians, media outlets and public institutions had received letters that threatened “bloody resistance” against the measures and included a wrapped chunk of meat, German broadcaster ARD reported Tuesday.

In September, a vaccination centre in Saxony was the target of an arson attack. Last month, a group of protesters gathered outside the home of Saxony’s interior minister holding lit torches, in what was seen as an implicit threat of violence.

The Telegram group of vaccination opponents in Dresden came to the attention of authorities after an investigative report by broadcaster ZDF last week. It said the group members had discussed killing Saxony state government representatives.