BERLIN (AFP/REUTERS) - German police shot dead a 17-year-old Afghan late Monday (July 18) after he attacked train passengers with an axe and a knife, seriously wounding four people in what one official said was a “probable” Islamist attack.
Several other people were also injured in the attack on a regional train near the southern city of Wuerzburg, police said, adding that the teenager was killed as he tried to flee. Police spokesman Fabian Hench said four people had been severely wounded. Several others were treated for shock.
Mr Joachim Herrmann, the Interior Minister of Bavaria state, said the attacker was a 17-year-old Afghan who had lived in nearby Ochsenfurt. “The attacker appears to have been a 17-year-old Afghan who has been living in Ochsenfurt for some time,” Mr Herrmann said. “He suddenly attacked passengers with a knife and an axe, critically injuring several. Some of them may now be fighting for their lives.”
However, Mr Herrmann, speaking on German public television, said it was too early to speculate about the motives of the attacker, who he said was believed to have been living in a home for unaccompanied minors in Ochsenfurt, near the city of Wuerzburg.
Earlier, a ministry spokeman had said “it is quite probable that this was an Islamist attack”. German media, citing the spokesman, reported that the man had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) during the attack, but neither Mr Herrmann nor Mr Hench said they could confirm that. “There are witnesses that suggest there may be an Islamic background to this but that is far from clear at this point,” Mr Herrmann said.
The attack happened around 9.15pm (3.15am Singapore time) on the train, which runs between Treuchlingen and Wuerzburg in Bavaria.
“Shortly after arriving at Wuerzburg, a man attacked passengers with an axe and a knife,” a police spokesman said.
“Three people have been seriously injured and several others lightly injured.”
He added: “The perpetrator was able to leave the train, police left in pursuit and as part of this pursuit, they shot the attacker and killed him.” There were no further details on the circumstances of the teenager’s death.
A special police force unit happened to be nearby and was able to mobilise quickly, Mr Hermann added.
An eyewitness who lives next to the railway station told DPA news agency that the train, which had been carrying around 25 people, looked “like a slaughterhouse” after the attack, with blood covering the floor.
The man, who declined to give his name, said he saw people crawl from the carriage and ask for a first-aid kit as other victims lay on the floor inside.
Four of those injured are members of a family from Hong Kong, the authorities in the southern Chinese city said on Tuesday, adding the immigration department was providing them with assistance.
In May, a mentally-unstable 27-year-old man carried out a similar knife attack on a regional train in the south, killing one person and injuring three others.
Early reports suggested he had yelled “Allahu akbar” but police later said there was no evidence pointing to a religious motive. He is being held in a psychiatric hospital.