Germany: 'Neo-nazis' in arson attack against asylum seekers centre
A graffiti and a swastika are painted on a wall of a house planned to be used for asylum seekers in the municipality of Vorra.Reuters

Neo-Nazis have set fire to several empty buildings allocated to house the increasing number of asylum seekers arriving in Germany.

Swastikas and anti-immigrant slogans were also spray-painted on one of the three structures that were set on fire in Vorra, in southern Germany near Nuremberg.

Authorities said they were treating the incident, which bore all the hallmarks of a far-right stunt, as arson.

"These arson attacks are abhorrent acts that the chancellor condemns in the strongest terms," said Christiane Wirtz, a spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"There's no room for Islamophobia or anti-Semitism, for hatred of foreigners or racism [in Germany]," she said. "The chancellor condemns such tendencies in the strongest possible terms."

No one was inside the recently renovated asylum site at the time of the fire, which police said caused some €700,000 (£550,000) of damages.

The buildings were expected to house asylum seekers from early 2015. Security at asylum centres across the country has been stepped up as a result of the attacks.

"We will do everything to identify the perpetrators," said Bavaria's interior minister, Joachim Herrmann.

Germany has recently experienced a rise in asylum applications, partly because of the war in Syria.

Meanwhile, reports on home-grown radicals joining jihadists groups in the Middle East, has helped fuel far-right anti-immigration sentiments.

In October dozens of policemen were injured as a 4,000 people-strong protest against Islamic extremism by far-right groups turned violent in Cologne.