An angry mob of anti-immigrant protesters started a riot in the German town of Heidenau on Saturday by attacking buses loaded with over 250 asylum seekers.
Thirty one police officers were injured in the violence, authorities reported.
The orderly demonstration against the refugees was said to have turned violent when members of the far-right National Democratic Party joined the protesters.
The rioters hurled rock and bottles at the buses, chanting “We are the people”, a famous rallying cry utilized by East Germans calling for reunification during the days of East and West Germany.
The chant is now used by the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (PEGIDA) movement.
Police used tear gas to break up the hundreds of protesters. The buses made it to their destination, a former retail store that will house the refugees on a temporary basis.
The mayor of Heidenau said “the reputation of our city as a family-friendly municipality has been significantly damaged” by the riot. He urged all citizens to support the refugees taking up residence in the city.
Germany has seen a sharp rise in anti-immigration sentiment due to the fact the country will admit over 800,000 asylum seekers this year, a stunning 400 percent increase over 2014.
PEGIDA sponsored anti-Islamic protests around the country earlier this year drew tens of thousands of demonstrators.
The violent riots were roundly condemned by politicians of multiple parties. Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth said on Twitter that “Sometimes you don’t want to be a foreigner in our country. But neither do you want to be a German. I am ashamed of these racists in Heidenau.”
Martin Dulig, leader of the Social Democratic Party said on Facebook that the “blind hatred and rejection towards asylum seekers fleeing war, poverty and persecution, shocked me,”.
He went on to say that “this racism and xenophobia witnessed yesterday will not be tolerated. The incidents are simply shameful. This is something we will not accept in our country.”