BERLIN (AP) -- Hundreds of police officers raided a refugee shelter in the southern German town of Ellwangen on Thursday, days after an angry mob of migrants prevented authorities from deporting a 23-year-old man from Togo.
Bernhard Weber, deputy police chief in the nearby town of Aalen, said the operation was necessary because of the "unprecedented" situation officers had faced Monday when they'd arrived to pick up the Togolese man.
"They were massively prevented from doing so, violently, by about 150 to 200 African refugees," Weber told reporters. He added that if the police were not able to do their jobs, that presented a "risk that a legal vacuum might emerge."
He said a decision was taken to return Thursday to enforce the deportation of the man to Italy, which he transited on his way to Germany. Under European Union rules people have to apply for asylum in the first member state they enter.
Four people including one police officer were taken to the hospital for injuries suffered during the raid, while eight others were treated by paramedics at the scene.
Germany's top security official backed the operation, which was carried out by Baden-Wuerttemberg state police.
"What happened there (Monday) was a slap in the face of the law-abiding population," said Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.