German politician Frauke Petry has attracted major criticism over her controversial comments urging border police to shoot at migrants who try to enter the country illegally. The 40-year-old, who heads the Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, made the comments at a political party meeting.

"Police must stop migrants crossing illegally from Austria. And, if necessary, use firearms. That is what the law says," said Petry. "I don't want this either, but the use of armed force is there as a last resort."

Petry's comments have been condemned both by the country's democratic politicians, as well as several police officers. Condemning Petry of portraying a "radical and inhuman" attitude, the police trade union voiced their disapproval of the comments and said migrants will never be shot.

According to opinion polls, AfD appears to be the third most powerful political party gaining support in Germany. The party is believed to be thriving on the back of its "Merkel must go" agenda. Following the uproar, Petry took to Twitter to deny the way her comments were allegedly misconstrued saying there appears to be a campaign against her party. "If a lie is published, it is not true," tweeted Petry. The politician also took to her Facebook account to release a clarification, saying: "The use of firearms as a last resort or to deter would be possible in principle."

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government rejected Petry's comments on 1 February as "absurd". "This proposal is inhuman and absurd. With this suggestion, the AfD has shown its true colours," said Merkel's chief of staff Peter Altmaier.

"It goes without saying: no German policeman will use a firearm against people who are searching for protection in Germany," German Interior Ministry spokesman, Johannes Dimroth, told a news conference on 1 February, reported Yahoo News. "And it goes without saying that the use of firearms against people to stop an illegal border crossing is unlawful."

"There is massive doubt that the AfD stands by the free democratic principles of our republic," said Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's Social Democrat Vice-Chancellor, according to a report in The Independent. Gabriel called for AfD to be put under permanent domestic intelligence surveillance.