February 27, 2009
When Berlin resident Simone Klostermann returned from vacation and couldn’t find her Mercedes SLK, she thought it had been towed. Police told her the 35,000- euro ($45,000) car had been torched.
“They’d squirted something flammable into the car’s engine block in the gap between the windshield and the hood,” said Klostermann. “The engine was completely destroyed.”
The 34-year-old’s experience isn’t unique in the German capital. At least 29 vehicles were destroyed in arson attacks this year, most of them luxury cars, according to police. The number is already about 30 percent of the total for 2008. The latest to go up in flames was a Porsche, on Feb. 14, two days after a Mercedes was set alight in a public car park.
While youths in Athens protest by throwing Molotov cocktails, in Paris by toppling barricades, and in Budapest by hurling eggs at politicians, protesters in Berlin rage at their economic plight by targeting the most expensive cars — symbols of German wealth and power.
A group calling itself BMW — the initials stand for Movement for Militant Resistance in German — has claimed responsibility for several attacks in left-wing magazines and Web sites, police spokesman Bernhard Schodrowski said.
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