German mayor appeals for calm as Syrian arrested for killing

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BERLIN (AP) — The mayor of Cottbus in eastern Germany is urging people to remain calm after a young Syrian was arrested on suspicion of killing an elderly woman in December.

There has been intense scrutiny of crimes committed by migrants in Germany in recent years. Nationalist groups have cited them as a reason to clamp down on immigration, though police say their figures don't support claims that foreigners are committing a disproportionate number of crimes.

In a message posted on the town's website late Wednesday, Cottbus mayor Holger Kelch acknowledged that "the origin of the alleged perpetrator will awaken emotions."

He noted that suspect appeared to have "abused the hospitality, openness and tolerance in Cottbus in the most brutal and shameful way." He warned, however, against placing all foreigners in Cottbus under general suspicion, adding that judging the suspect was a matter for the courts.

The unidentified suspect was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of killing 82-year-old Gerda Krueger in her home in Dec. 9.

Cottbus prosecutor Gernot Bantleon said the suspect had been in Germany for about 1 ½ years and was a minor at the time of the crime. Bantleon declined to provide further details about the case.

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