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German police hope voices will trap racist attackers

By Staff
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BERLIN, Apr 18 (Reuters) Police in the eastern German city of Potsdam today said they hoped to track down suspected right-wing extremists who brutally beat a German man of African origin by broadcasting their voices.

The victim, a 37-year-old of Ethiopian origin, was leaving his wife an answerphone message when he was attacked and the voices of one or both assailants were recorded insulting the man about his colour.

Police were working to improve the quality of the tape and planned to publish it on the Internet in the hope someone might recognise the voices and come forward.

The victim was attacked at 4 am (local time) while waiting for a tram in the centre of the city and was so badly beaten he was nearly killed. He remained in an artificially induced coma but was now in a stable condition, doctors today said.

Authorities in the city southwest of Berlin said they were searching for two attackers wanted for attempted murder of the man, an engineer who has a German passport and two children.

The incident has shocked Germans already engaged in soul-searching about the integration of foreigners after violence at a school in a Muslim-dominated district of Berlin hit the headlines.

Officials from Germany's ruling coalition of conservatives (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD) have pledged to hold a summit on the issue of integration before the summer break.

About 100 people have been killed in the far-right violence that followed German unification in 1990, which has often been directed at dark-skinned foreigners living in the formerly communist eastern states.

Police in Potsdam said eight people had come forward to volunteer information about the attackers and finger- and footprints taken from the scene were also being examined.

One of the voices on the tape may belong to a woman, they added.

Some 400 people marched in the city on Monday to protest the attack and to condemn neo-Nazis and racism.

REUTERS OM RAI1709

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