Several killed in Germany ‘knife attack’
Several people were killed and others injured on Friday in an attack in the southern German city of Wuerzburg, police said, with media reporting a knife assault.
“The attacker was overpowered after the police used firearms. There are several injured as well as fatalities,” police said on Twitter, without giving details on the suspect’s motives.
There was no further danger to the public, added police.
German news outlets reported that the suspect had attacked people in the city-centre with a knife at around 5.00 pm (1500 GMT).
Police were able to arrest the man after shooting him in the leg, the Bild newspaper reported, adding that at least three people were killed and six others injured.
The mass-circulation daily published a photo of the suspect, showing a dark-skinned man wearing a beige long-sleeved t-shirt with grey trousers and holding a long knife.
Video footage circulating online also showed passers-by trying to stop the suspect using folded chairs.
A crowd of people gave chase, before a police car arrived on the scene, one video showed.
A huge police deployment was ongoing in the city of some 130,000 inhabitants located about 120 kilometres (75 miles) west of Frankfurt.
While the motive and full identity of the perpetrator have not yet been established, Germany has been on high alert after several deadly Islamist extremist attacks.
‘Threat remains great’
Suspected Islamists have committed several attacks in Germany in recent years, the deadliest being a truck rampage at a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016 that killed 12 people.
The Tunisian attacker, a failed asylum seeker, was a supporter of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.
More recently, one man was killed and another seriously injured in an Islamist knife attack in the city of Dresden in October.
A 20-year-old Syrian jihadist in May received a life sentence for the homophobic attack.
Last August, six people were injured in a series of motorway accidents in Berlin in what prosecutors described as a suspected Islamist attack.
Since 2009, German authorities have foiled 17 suspected jihadist attacks — the majority in 2016, according to the interior ministry.
The number of Islamists considered dangerous in Germany rose sharply between 2015 and 2018, according to security services.
But the numbers have declined since then, with 615 considered dangerous by the latest count compared with 730 in January 2018.
On top of that, there are also 521 people “who have attracted the attention of the security services but have not yet reached the stage of being considered dangerous”.
In 2020, 320 new investigations with a link to the Islamist threat were launched in Germany.
This is also a lower number than in previous years, but “the threat from Islamist-motivated terrorism is and remains great,” chief federal prosecutor Peter Frank said.
Germany remains a target for jihadist groups, in particular because of its involvement in the coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, and its deployment in Afghanistan since 2001.
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has meanwhile charged that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow in more than one million asylum seekers — many fleeing Iraq and Syria — since 2015 has contributed to the heightened security risk.
But beyond Islamist attacks, there have been other assaults by knife-wielding people.
In October 2017, a knife-wielding man randomly attacked passersby in central Munich, lightly injuring eight people. Police excluded terrorism as a motive after detaining the suspected perpetrator.
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