7 injured in axe attack at German train station

Police at the main train station in the German city of Dusseldorf.
Police at the main train station in the German city of Dusseldorf.PHOTO: AFP

Attacker has mental health problems, seriously hurt after jumping from bridge

DUSSELDORF (Germany) • An axe-wielding man suffering from mental health problems has injured seven people at the main train station in the German city of Dusseldorf, according to police.

Initially police had said several attackers were involved and two were arrested but they later said one suspect was behind the assault, a 36-year-old man from the former Yugoslavia.

"An assailant probably armed with an axe attacked people at random" on Thursday night, city police said in a statement.

Police initially gave the number of injured as five, but updated that to seven in a later statement.

While trying to escape, the man jumped from a bridge and suffered serious injuries from the fall, the statement said. He was not in a position to be interrogated, German news agency DPA reported.

"We were on the platform waiting for the train. The train arrived and suddenly someone with an axe came out and started attacking people," an unnamed witness told Bild newspaper. "There was blood everywhere," the witness was quoted as saying.

Large numbers of police, including special units, were deployed at the station and traffic was halted. Bild reported that helicopters flew overhead.

"Interruption at the central station in Dusseldorf. We can't say when the trains will start running again," regional police said on Twitter.

Mr Peter Altmaier, a close adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel, wrote on Twitter: "What happened at the central station in Dusseldorf, our compassion and our thoughts go out to the injured."

City mayor Thomas Geisel also reached out to victims, according to Bild. "It's a huge blow for Dusseldorf. Many people are in shock. I'd like to thank the police. My thoughts go out to the victims and their families," he said.

German authorities have been on alert for terror attacks, especially since an assault claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in December, when a hijacked truck ploughed into a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people. According to security services, there are about 10,000 radical Islamists in the country, of whom 1,600 have suspected links to terror groups.

There was another axe attack on a train in 2016 in Germany's Bavaria, but no-one was killed and the attacker was also found to be mentally unbalanced.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2017, with the headline '7 injured in axe attack at German train station'. Print Edition | Subscribe