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Seven children among at least 8 dead in German fire: police

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Fire swept through an apartment building in southwestern Germany on Sunday, killing at least eight members of a family of Turkish origin, including seven children, police said.

The cause of the blaze was not known but police said they were investigating an oven in a flat on the first floor of the former leather factory in the town of Backnang near Stuttgart.

"There are no indications of arson or a xenophobic motive," police said, adding that there was a German-Turkish cultural exchange association on the ground floor of the building.

Hundreds of firefighters tackled the fire which broke out in the early hours of Sunday. Television pictures showed flames shooting out of windows and clouds of thick smoke billowing into the night sky.

The firefighters were able to rescue three people from a balcony. The trio was rushed to hospital and their injuries were not thought to be life-threatening, according to a police spokesman.

According to the local paper, the Waiblinger Kreiszeitung, an 11-year old girl, the family's grandmother and an uncle were saved.

The father of the family, said to have 10 members, was not at home when the fire broke out, reported the Waiblinger Kreiszeitung.

Mass circulation Bild said the youngest victim was only six months old.

By mid-morning, the fire was under control but not yet extinguished. Authorities hope to begin their investigations when the site has cooled sufficiently, but this could take some time.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on microblogging site Twitter that he wanted an investigation that left "no room for doubt" as to the cause of the blaze.

A total of eight people died in arson attacks by right-wing extremists on houses occupied by Turks in the German towns of Moelln and Solingen in 1992 and 1993.

Fears for the safety of Turks in Germany, which houses the largest Turkish population outside Turkey, have grown since it emerged that a neo-Nazi cell was allegedly behind a series of attacks against foreigners between 2000 and 2007.

A trio of militants, calling itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU), are accused of killing nine men of Turkish or Greek origin across Germany between 2000 and 2006 and a German policewoman in 2007.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130310/seven-children-among-at-least-8-dead-german-fire-police