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Neo-Nazi graffiti found on building where 9 people died in a fire
Germany Trapped by 7109310
Flowers and candles are placed in front of a house in Ludwigshafen, Germany, on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008 where 9 people were killed in a fire Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008. The sign reads "Why?" - photo by Associated Press
    LUDWIGSHAFEN, Germany — Neo-Nazi graffiti was found scrawled on the entrance to a Turkish cultural center at a building where nine people — including five children — were killed in a fire, police said Wednesday.
    The building in the southwestern city of Ludwigshafen was home to two Turkish families; all nine victims were either Turkish citizens or Germans of Turkish descent.
    The deaths called to mind racially motivated attacks in western Germany in the 1990s.
    ‘‘Hass,’’ the German word for hate, was written twice on the wall, with the final two letters written in the Nazi ‘‘SS’’ rune script, police spokesman Michael Lindner said. He said the graffiti must have been scrawled before the fire because the building had been secured after Sunday’s blaze.
    Authorities have said two gasoline bombs were thrown at the building in 2006, but the fires they started were quickly put out by residents. There was no immediate link between those incidents and the fire.
    Turkey’s government has called for a thorough investigation. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is visiting Germany, is expected to stop at the building Thursday and meet with survivors at a hospital.
    City officials rebuffed criticism from Turkish citizens that they did not respond to the scene fast enough.
    Mayor Wilhelm Zeiser said the first alarm came at 4:22 p.m. and that two fire trucks were at the building within two minutes, followed by six engines and ambulances three minutes later. He said 47 people were rescued from the building.
    Nevertheless, a firefighter was assaulted by a Turkish man early Wednesday, Police Chief Wolfgang Fromm said. He said it was unacceptable for rescue workers ‘‘to be insulted, threatened or spat on’’ and ordered bodyguards for members of the city’s rescue services.
    Police were working with two girls, aged 8 and 9, to develop a sketch of a man they say they saw setting fire to something with his lighter and then throwing it next to a baby carriage in the hallway of the building.
    The blaze engulfed the four-story building in smoke and flames. People jumped for their lives, and in a dramatic scene, a 32-year-old man possibly saved his infant nephew by throwing him to a police officer 23 feet below, who caught the child. Police said the baby was unharmed and his parents also survived.
    ‘‘I did what I had to do, there was nothing else I could do,’’ the uncle, Kamil Kaplan, told Associated Press Television News. ‘‘We had eye contact, nodded to each other, like saying, shall I do it, can you catch the baby. Then I saw the flames ... ‘‘
    Neo-Nazis were convicted for a spate of attacks on immigrants in the 1990s, including a 1993 firebomb attack in Solingen that killed two Turkish women and three girls — Germany’s deadliest xenophobic attack since World War II.
    Associated Press Writer Suzan Fraser contributed to this report from Ankara, Turkey.

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