Chinese man detained in Berlin over ‘arson’ at embassy

A Chinese citizen suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails at his country’s embassy in Berlin to protest Beijing’s treatment of minorities is being held in custody for attempted arson, German prosecutors said Tuesday.

The 42-year-old man has been detained since March 11 on suspicion of launching an arson attack on the Chinese embassy the previous morning, Berlin state prosecutors said in a statement.

They added that the suspect carried out his action “in order to protest against the Chinese government’s policy towards minorities”.

Prosecutors did not provide further details on the man’s motive, but China has faced growing international criticism for its crackdown on the Muslim Uighur minority in the Xinjiang region.

Last week, Berlin police reported arresting the suspect after security guards who had witnessed him throw the Molotov cocktails apprehended him at a nearby crossroads.

According to police, the suspect allegedly threw the flaming devices over the wall of the embassy grounds on Brueckenstrasse, a street linking two central Berlin districts of Mitte and Kreuzberg.

“The devices smashed at the foot of one of the walls of the embassy building, and embassy staff put out the fire with an extinguisher,” the police statement said, adding that nobody had been injured.

Rights groups believe at least one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in camps spread out across the vast northwestern region.

China has strongly denied allegations of forced labour involving Uighurs in Xinjiang and says training programmes, work schemes and better education have helped stamp out extremism in the region.

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