A German far-right MP has been badly injured after being assaulted in the north of the country, with police believing there was a ‘political motivation’ behind the attack.
The assault on 66-year-old Frank Magnitz - an Alternative for Germany (AfD) MP and chairman of the Bremen branch of the party - happened in the city of Bremen on Monday evening.
Police say he was hit in the head by at least three men, who were dressed in dark clothes and hoods or caps.
He was taken to hospital with serious injuries.
A search is continuing for those behind the attack, while local police and prosecutors are investigating.
AfD posted a graphic image of the injured MP on social media, showing his face covered in blood, cuts and bruises.
In a statement on social media, the AfD described it as a “a black day for democracy in Germany”.
The attack has been condemned by others across the political spectrum.
Angela Merkel’s spokesperson said the “brutal attack must be strongly condemned”:
Der brutale Angriff auf den Bundestagsabgeordneten Frank #Magnitz in Bremen ist scharf zu verurteilen. Hoffentlich gelingt es der Polizei rasch, die Täter zu fassen.
— Steffen Seibert (@RegSprecher) January 8, 2019
The German government’s foreign affairs minister Heiko Maas said: "Violence must never be a means of political debate.
“There is no justification whatsoever for this. Anyone who commits such a crime must be punished.”
Greens MP Cem Özdemir added: “I hope the perpetrators will be investigated and convicted soon. There is no justification whatsoever for violence… whoever fights hate with hate always lets hate win in the end.”
The right-wing populist AfD party has made significant electoral gains in Germany in recent years - with its 91 seats in the Bundestag making it the largest opposition party.
However, it has also proven a controversial organisation, and has drawn widespread criticism over its stances on issues such as immigration and Islam.