The German interior ministry has rejected a call by a populist right-wing party to provide police with powers to use firearms to prevent migrants and refugees from entering the country illegally.
Frauke Petry, leader of anti-refugee Alternative for Germany party (AfD) told the local paper Mannheimer Morgen on January 23 that officers should "use firearms if necessary" to “prevent illegal border crossings".
"No policeman wants to fire on a refugee and I don't want that either. But "police must stop refugees entering German soil", she said.
On Monday, Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth reaffirmed the government's rejection of the proposal.
"It goes without saying: No German policeman will use a firearm against people who are searching for protection in Germany," Dimroth told a press conference.
"And it goes without saying that the use of firearms against people to stop an illegal border crossing is unlawful."
Earlier this week, Peter Altmaier, Merkel's chief of staff, described Petry's suggestion as "absurd" and "inhuman".
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Opinion polls currently put the AfD in third place, behind Merkel's conservative party and her centre-left coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD).
The AfD has seen a surge in support amid increasing tensions between migrants and locals, with attacks on refugees and claims of sexual assaults by foreigners in the country.
Merkel has been under increasing pressure over her open-door policy for refugees as more than one million streamed into Germany last year, and some regions have complained that they are being overwhelmed.