Victims of knife attacks in Germany were all women – police


WUERZBURG, Germany (Reuters) – German authorities were investigating on Saturday what prompted a man to go on the rampage with a knife in the town of Wuerzberg on Friday, killing three women and seriously injuring five other women.

Authorities said the suspect, whose rampage was stopped when police arrested him, was a 24-year-old Somali immigrant who had had mental health issues in the past. As is the practice in Germany, they did not name it.

Authorities assume the suspect was acting alone, but are still investigating whether there was an Islamist motive for the attack, regional Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said at a press conference.

Herrmann quoted a witness as saying that before starting his frenzy, the suspect shouted “Allahu akbar”, an Arabic phrase meaning “God is great” and which is often associated with acts of Islamist militancy when used by attackers.

“The signs of radicalization, in this case Islamism, and psychological problems are not necessarily mutually exclusive … this needs to be investigated further,” Herrmann said.

The man went to the kitchen section of a store and asked an assistant where the knives were, said regional police president Gerhard Kalert. He grabbed a knife and stabbed and killed the saleswoman and two other women in the store.

He then seriously injured five other women, as well as a child, in a bank and on the street.

He was cornered by passers-by before police shot him in the thigh, Kallert said.

Police found the man’s phone and brochures containing hate messages during a search of the homeless shelter, but are still assessing them, Kallert said, adding that it was not yet clear whether the suspect had deliberately targeted women.

One of the injured was still fighting for his life, while two were released from hospital, Police President Martin Wilhelm said at the press conference.

Residents put flowers and candles outside the store.

The suspect had lived in Wuerzburg since 2015, when Germany opened its borders to more than a million migrants and refugees fleeing war and poverty.

He was registered as living in a homeless facility and had been placed in compulsory psychiatric treatment twice this year, once after a scuffle with other residents involving a knife but no injuries, prosecutor Wolfgang Gruendler said.

Five years ago, Wuerzburg, a former city of 130,000 people about 100 km (62 miles) southeast of Frankfurt, was the scene of a knife attack on a train by an asylum seeker. 17-year-old Pakistani man in which five people were injured, two seriously.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson, editing by Frances Kerry)


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