Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Rule Out Nazis in Arson Probe

BONN -- A handicapped woman from former Yugoslavia and her 11-year-old brother were killed in an arson attack on a refugee camp in northwest Germany on Wednesday, and police began a search for the woman's former lover.

The attack on container homes set up to house refugees in woodland near the town of Herford prompted reactions of outrage from politicians, who took it to be the latest in a series of neo-Nazi fire-bombings of foreigners.

But Rolf Hannisch, spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor who has taken over the case, ruled out a racist motive.

The police chief of Bielefeld, near Herford, said police had set up a dragnet to catch the dead woman's former lover, an ethnic Albanian from the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, who had threatened her in the past.

Police sources said a suspect had been caught in Hamburg but this could not be officially confirmed.

A Herford police spokesman said the arsonist had apparently used fireworks to set off two 25-liter cans filled with petrol in the entrance to one of 40 container homes.

The woman, who was identifed as Bukureje Haliti, 23, and described by police as slightly handicapped, together with her brother Navgim Haliti, suffocated as their container burst into flames shortly after 4 A.M. It appeared that the boy had tried in vain to rescue his sister.

At least 30 people have died since unification in 1990 in a surge in rightist violence directed at foreigners, Jews and other targets of Nazi ideology, including the handicapped.