SEK german special police
© Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch
German special policemen SEK search a housing area in the eastern city of Chemnitz on suspicion that a bomb attack was being planned in Germany.
A special task force unit has been disbanded in the German city of Frankfurt am Main, a state interior minister has announced, amid an investigation into the sharing of extremist and neo-Nazi content on group chats.

The special operations command, known as SEK, will no longer exist in the city, Peter Beuth, interior minister of the central German state of Hessen, said at a press conference on Thursday, slamming the "complete failure" in leadership.

The announcement comes just a day after the alleged far-right extremist tendencies of a number of members were revealed. Some 20 SEK members, both active and former, are said to have exchanged hatred-inciting content in the special task force chats. The messages allegedly contained images of Adolf Hitler and swastikas - outlawed in modern Germany, as well as insults against asylum seekers, local media reported.

Admitting that the alleged shared texts and images suggest "some members" of the SEK are right-wing extremists, Beuth said he had initiated a "fundamental restart" and restructuring of the force.

The unit is responsible for dealing with top-level emergencies, including hostage-taking and anti-terrorist operations, and has been regarded as an elite division. Now, "unacceptable misconduct" by its members has led to its dissolution, Beuth said, adding that while the special forces are vital for the state, changes within them are "unavoidable." A "completely new management culture must be created at the lower and middle levels," he said.

According to the findings of the undercover investigation, the unit members' superiors had been aware of the Nazi talk in chats but didn't do anything about it.

None of the investigated officers, aged between 29 and 54, will continue to work in the special forces, and will also probably be fired from the Hessen police, Beuth said, adding that the allegations will be pursued "consistently in terms of criminal law and discipline."

So far, there has been no evidence that the closed unit communicated with other groups, "but the investigation is at the very beginning," he warned.

Meanwhile, the scandal-fueled changes to the forces divided the state's political forces, local media reported. While some, including the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, considered the dissolution of the unit disproportionate, others said it wasn't enough, demanding that the interior minister resigns. The top-level officials have also been accused of fighting "only a symptom, but not the cause of the problem."

"The constant talk of individual cases, the trivialization of right-wing networks and criminal offenses and the sweeping under the carpet of the outrageous scandals have a system," the co-chairwoman of Germany's The Left party, Janine Wissler said, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.