UK police say right-wing extremism influenced Dover attacker

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LONDON (AP) — A man who firebombed an immigration processing center in southern England last week was motivated by right-wing ideology, U.K. counterterrorism police said Saturday.

Andrew Leak, 66, is believed to have killed himself after throwing two or three incendiary devices at the Western Jet Foil site in the port city of Dover on Oct. 30. While the flames were quickly extinguished, two people were injured in the attack and more than 700 migrants had to be relocated.

Investigators have spoken to a number of witnesses and recovered evidence, including “digital media devices,” that suggest Leak was motivated by extreme right-wing ideology, Counter Terrorism Policing South East said in a statement.

“Whilst there are strong indications that mental health was likely a factor, I am satisfied that the suspect’s actions were primarily driven by an extremist ideology,” said Tim Jacques, senior national coordinator for counterterrorism policing. “This meets the threshold for a terrorist incident.”

Britain’s asylum system is struggling to keep up with a sharp increase in the number of migrants crossing the English Channel from France in small boats. About 40,000 people have made the hazardous journey already this year, up from 28,000 in all of 2021 and 8,500 in 2020.

The government, led by the center-right Conservative Party, is under pressure to solve the problem after promising to cut immigration and regain control of the country’s borders after the U.K. left the European Union.

In an effort to discourage people from making the risky crossing, the government has announced a controversial plan to send those who arrive in small boats on a one-way journey to Rwanda. The program is on hold in the face of legal challenges from critics who say it is immoral and impractical.

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