Arsonists attack refugee shelter in southern Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) - Arsonists attacked a refugee shelter in the southern German state of Bavaria, police said on Friday, as authorities struggle to cope with the biggest influx of people fleeing violence and poverty in the nation's post-war history. On Thursday, 17 people were injured in a riot in a refugee shelter in central Germany over a torn Koran and politicians have warned of growing tensions with the number of asylum-seekers and refugees expected to quadruple this year. Firefighters were able to get the fire at the refuge in Neustadt an der Waldnaab quickly under control after a resident alerted authorities to the fire there at 3.20 a.m. (0120 GMT), a police spokesman said. A refugee told police he saw two people jumping out of a ground floor window and a third person in front of the home who all fled. Police said they could not rule out a possible xenophobic motive, but were following all lines of inquiry. The 19 residents, who included three children, were not injured and all returned to the former guesthouse which is being used to house asylum-seekers. There were 150 arson or other attacks that damaged or destroyed refugee shelters in the first six months of the year. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Wednesday that Germany expects the number of asylum-seekers and refugees to reach around 800,000 this year - more than the entire population of Frankfurt am Main. Even so, 60 percent of Germans believe their country can cope with the influx, up from 54 percent in July, according to a poll published by broadcaster ZDF on Friday. (Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)