Amid an influx of migrants, crimes against refugee shelters in Germany pass 700 this year

The number of arson attacks, assaults and other crimes against refugee shelters in Germany has passed 700 this year, according to figures obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

Data compiled by Germany's federal police showed 715 such crimes between the start of the year and Nov. 16, compared with 199 in all of 2014.

The sharp increase reflects growing anti-immigrant sentiment amid an unprecedented influx to the country of people seeking refuge from war, persecution and poverty.

In at least 640 cases, authorities were able to confirm a far-right motive behind the crimes. In the 75 other cases, the motive hadn't yet been determined.

Among the attacks were 56 cases of arson and eight cases of attempted arson. Last year there were six cases of arson.

The average number of incidents per day has increased from just over one in January to more than three in November.

German authorities say far-right groups are actively using social media to drum up fears about migrants and that many of the attacks are likely to be the result of such incitement. To back this up, they note about two-thirds of the suspects identified in these crimes were previously unknown to German police, who keep a close eye on extremists.