Chirstmas Lights 11
A scene from the Dortmund Christmas Market (file photo) Reuters

Police in Germany have rubbished a report by right-wing website Breitbart that claimed a 1000-strong mob chanting 'Allahu Akhbar' set fire to an historic church in Dortmund on New Year's Eve.

The story, which was shared by tens of thousands of people, prompted a warning from German authorities about 'fake news' being shared after police stated no "extraordinary or spectacular" events took place on 31 December.

Justice minister of Hesse state, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, told The Guardian: "The danger is that these stories spread with incredible speed and take on lives of their own".

Breitbart's story, titled "Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany's oldest church alight on New Year's Eve", claimed a group of men had thrown fireworks at police, families with children and homeless people.

The Breitbart article claimed that despite local reports, a group of Syrians "sang to celebrate a ceasefire." A video posted to Twitter by one of the newspaper's reporters, paired with the caption "Syrians celebrate the truce in their country", shows a group of men chanting 'Allahu Akhbar' around the flag of al-Qaeda and Islamic State collaborators, the 'Free Syrian Army".

However, local media said a small fire at the church (which is not the country's oldest) had been caused by stray fireworks and was put out after 12 minutes.

The falsely reported article has prompted fears in Germany that the launch of a Breitbart website in German will "aggravate the already tense political climate", German newspaper Bild warned.

Breitbart did not immediately respond to IBTimes UK's request for a comment.