Germany has denounced a mob that protested the arrival of asylum seekers on Thursday in the Saxony town of Clausnitz. About 100 people had gathered around the bus carrying 20 asylum seekers to the town, where they were supposed to be resettled.

Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Angela Merkel, apologised for the “deeply shameful” behaviour. A video footage showed the asylum seekers stuck inside the bus as the mob surrounding it shouted slogans that said “we are the people” and “go home.”

“How cold-hearted and cowardly one must be to stand in front of a bus with refugees and shout with the aim of frightening the passengers, including women and children,” the BBC quoted Seibert as saying.

Two days after the protests, a shelter for the asylum seekers was set on fire in Bautzen, Germany, while the bystanders cheered and applauded. Seibert called for a response from the majority of citizens as well as the government institutions.

“This is not something that we can solve with rules from Berlin. It is something that we must, as a society, take a clear stance on,” he told a press conference.

The Daily Mail reported that the police and the onlookers claimed that the group of refugees had enraged the mob by making offensive gestures. A woman on the bus wearing a head scarf allegedly spat at the protesters while others made cutting throat gestures by running their fingers at their own throats.

Michael Funke, the Clausnitz mayor, said that many of those who gathered near the bus had only come to see who all had arrived to stay there.

He said that the police had to act when some of the refugee children started crying by seeing the large gathering. A few asylum seekers started weeping as they got off by themselves.

“The way the police officers handled the situation was absolutely necessary and completely in line with what should have happened,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying. “Only by using physical force was it possible to bring them inside the asylum home. As far as I’m concerned there should be no consequences for the officers as a result of what happened.”