Jan. 8 (UPI) -- German police Tuesday were looking for three masked men who severely injured right-wing populist leader Frank Magnitz, beating him on a Bremen street.
Magnitz, 66, leader of the Alternative for Germany party and a member of Germany's lower house of parliament, had left a New Year's reception when he was attacked, Deutsche Welle reported.
Authorities said Magnitz was knocked unconscious before a construction worker stepped in to stop the beating. The attack was being treated as a "politically motivated act."
Alternative for Germany co-leader Alexander Gauland called the attack a "cowardly bloody deed," The Guardian reported. The party's leader in parliament, Alice Weidel, blamed the media and politicians for stoking hatred about the party "on a daily basis."
"Violence should never be a means for political disputes -- totally regardless against whom or what the motives for it are," said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of the Social Democrat Party. "Whoever carries out such a crime has to be punished accordingly."
Other German politicians also criticized the violence.
"There is no justification for violence, even against the AfD," former Green Party co-leader Cem Özdemir wrote on Twitter. "Whoever fights hatred with hatred allows hate to win in the end."
Magnitz, who had faced charges of racism in the past, was elected to the Bundestag, the German parliament, in 2017. His party then became the main opposition for the first time when it won nearly 13 percent of the national election vote.
As of 2019, Alternative for Germany has 91 seats in parliament, behind the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (246) and the Social Democratic Party (152).