Christians living in German town to mark Christmas after surge in crime, refugees

Christmas markets will still open in Germany this year despite an influx of migrants and a resulting spike in crime, local officials in the southeastern city of Oder said Sunday.

The German Interior Ministry said earlier that the Christmas markets were safe but acknowledged that they had also become a magnet for crime and prostitution.

“The Christmas markets in Oder can still present themselves to the public,” said Interim Mayor Ulla Plumb.

There were reports of dozens of possible minor assaults in the run-up to Christmas last year, including four separate rapes.

Oder, which has been rocked by insecurity in recent months, was again in the headlines recently when six drug dealers were shot by police responding to a robbery at a gas station in the town on March 26. Two passers-by were also killed in the gun battle.

Two of the drug dealers were shot dead at the scene, while two others were arrested after a spectacular high-speed chase which ended when police stopped the car. They were later released after fingerprints from the vehicle were found.

German police have blamed the alleged attack on militant Islamic State members, though some counter-terrorism experts warn that authorities may be overstating the threat.

DPA, The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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