Police say five people were severely injured in violent clashes between Iraqi-Yazidi and Chechen asylum-seekers in the central German city of Bielefeld.

Police said in a statement Sunday the religious minority group and the Chechens were living in the same refugee shelter and went after each other with truncheons and knives on Saturday night.

Five people had to be treated in hospital for traumatic brain injury, a fractured hand, stabbing wounds and facial bone fractures.

Two Chechen men, aged 24 and 42, were detained and all Yazidi and Chechen families were taken from the shelter and placed in other shelters in different cities overnight.

Police are still investigating the cause for the outbreak of violence.