Security jitters

Four random attacks in a week

A policeman securing an area after a shooting spree at a shopping centre in Munich last Friday.
A policeman securing an area after a shooting spree at a shopping centre in Munich last Friday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Germany has avoided large-scale terrorist attacks on its soil, in contrast with the assaults that killed hundreds in Paris, Brussels and Nice over the last year.

But the country is now on edge after an unprecedented series of four random attacks in the past week left 10 people dead and more than 50 injured. Three of the assaults were in Bavaria, a gateway for tens of thousands of refugees under Chancellor Angela Merkel's liberal asylum policy.

JULY 24: The latest incident occurred late on Sunday at a music festival in the Bavarian town of Ansbach, near Nuremberg, when a 27-year-old man identified as a Syrian refugee blew himself up near the entrance to the event, injuring 15 others.

Police said the man intended to target the open-air festival but was turned away as he did not have a ticket, and detonated the device outside a nearby cafe.

JULY 24: Also on Sunday, a 21- year-old male, identified as a Syrian refugee, wielding a kebab knife killed a pregnant woman in Reutlingen, a town south of Stuttgart.

Police, who initially said the murder weapon was a machete, added that the incident did not bear the hallmarks of a "terrorist attack". The woman who was killed had reportedly spurned the migrant's advances.

Three people were injured in the attack, which ended when the assailant was deliberately struck by a BMW driver and then arrested.

JULY 22: The latest attacks followed a shooting spree at a shopping centre in Munich last Friday, in which an 18-year-old man shot dead nine people before killing himself.

The attacker, identified as an Iranian-German born and raised in Germany, had no apparent connection with a terror organisation, police said. The teen, who had German and Iranian nationality, was obsessed with mass killings and spent a year preparing for the shooting spree, police added.

At least 35 people were also wounded during the attack, which began at a McDonald's outlet and ended with the shooter turning his 9mm Glock pistol on himself.

Police have arrested a 16-year- old Afghan friend of the attacker. Investigators said a WhatsApp chat between the two showed that the Afghan knew the attacker was in possession of the firearm and had met with him just before the attack at the scene of the crime.

JULY 18: Last Monday, an axe assault by an Afghan asylum-seeker allegedly inspired by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) wounded five train passengers near Wuerzburg. The assailant was killed as he tried to flee.

After the attack, ISIS released a video showing the attacker calling for more attacks in other countries. German authorities also found a hand-painted flag of the ISIS group among the assailant's belongings.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2016, with the headline 'Four random attacks in a week'. Print Edition | Subscribe