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Germany bans neo-Nazi group Combat 18: 'Right-wing extremism is a signifcant danger to society'

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In this Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2003 file photo models of seized weapons are on display during a press conference by the state police in Kiel, northern Germany.
In this Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2003 file photo models of seized weapons are on display during a press conference by the state police in Kiel, northern Germany.   -  
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AP Photo/Heribert Proepper, file
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Germany said right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism were a significant danger in its society as it banned neo-Nazi group Combat 18 on Thursday.

The country's interior minister cited last year's shooting at a Halle synagogue and the assassination of Walter Lübcke as evidence.

"Today's ban is a clear message: Right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism have no place in our society," said Horst Seehofer.

Seehofer said the group had been involved in the production and distribution of right-wing extremist music and concerts.

Combat 18 was founded in the UK in the early 1990s by members of the far-right British National Party and soon spread to other countries including Germany. It takes its name from Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's initials, respectively the first and eighth letters of the alphabet.

More than 200 police officers carried out early-morning raids across six federal states during which they retrieved mobile phones, laptops, weapons, Nazi items and propaganda material.

According to the ministry, about 20 people belong to the group with a distinction made between "full members" and " supporters". The raids on Thursday morning targeted the ringleader in the east-central state and Thuringia and several full members in Brandenburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate.

The group is the 18th right-wing one to be banned in Germany. The previous one was the White Wolves Terror Crew banned in February 2016.

Seehofer said that murders attributed to the National Socialist Underground right-wing group as well as the killing of district president Dr Walter Lubcke and shooting at a synagogue in Halle — both last year — "showed us that right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism are a significant danger to our free society".

The German announcement came as world leaders gathered in Jerusalem on Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

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