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Neo-Nazi Attack on Disabled Girl Recalls WWII Terrorism

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Reminded of the Third Reich’s attempt to exterminate the physically disabled, Germans sought to come to grips Wednesday with a neo-Nazi attack that left a wheelchair-bound girl with a swastika carved on her face.

A private advocacy group called Help for Germany’s Handicapped said the Monday assault on the 17-year-old in the eastern German city of Halle was not an isolated incident.

Eighty disabled people have reported being victims of attacks by rightist extremists in 1992 and 1993, said Friedel Rinn, chairman of the Duesseldorf-based group. One of the victims died.

A nationwide dragnet has been launched for the girl’s assailants. But Halle police said they still do not know who carried out the attack in broad daylight not far from her school.

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“This is so disgusting that it could only have come from a sick mind,” said Otto Regenspurger, the federal government’s advocate for the disabled.

Rinn blamed Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s social policies, saying the government has done too little to encourage sympathy for Germany’s needy and disadvantaged.

But Regenspurger blamed violent movies and television. He said the assailants may have been copying a recent television drama about neo-Nazis that included a portrayal of the same crime.

Halle high school students organized a march for today to protest the attack.

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Police in Halle sent composite pictures of the assailants to investigators across Germany and are asking residents for help in finding the culprits.

City police spokesman Ralf Berger said about 60 people have called with possible clues but that there have been no arrests.

The federal justice minister says police must make a concerted drive this year to end neo-Nazi violence, which has killed 30 people since 1990.

The Halle slashing victim told police she was stopped by two male skinheads and a teen-age girl just after leaving class. Identified only as Elke, the victim said one of the male extremists cut a swastika into her left cheek after she refused to repeat fascist slogans.

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