Swiss woman arrested after attacking two in Lugano department store, terror link suspected

Police in front of the Manor department store in Piazza Dante in Lugano, Switzerland, on Nov 24, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ZURICH (REUTERS) - A Swiss woman grabbed a woman by the neck and wounded another in the neck with a serrated knife in a department store in the southern Swiss city of Lugano on Tuesday (Nov 24) in what federal prosecutors called a suspected terror attack.

Ticino cantonal police said the attack was over and the suspect, a 28-year-old who lives in the area, was in custody.

One victim sustained serious but not life-threatening injuries and another was lightly injured.

"A department store in Lugano was the scene of a suspected terrorist-motivated attack on several people," the federal Office of the Attorney General said in a statement.

"In this context, one person with Swiss citizenship was arrested and is now in custody .... The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland has opened criminal proceedings against this person," it added.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz condemned the attack on Twitter.

"I fully condemn today's Islamist terrorist attack in Lugano. My thoughts are with the victims wishing them a full & swift recovery. We stand with Switzerland in these difficult hours. We'll give a joint response to Islamist terrorism in Europe and defend our values," Kurz said.

A jihadist attacker shot dead four people in Vienna earlier this month.

Norman Gobbi, president of the cantonal government of Ticino where Lugano is located, said on twitter Switzerland was a peaceful country and Ticino a safe place.

"All the more reason to strongly condemn this absurd violence, motivated by extremism that cannot find a place in our community," Gobbi said.

Neutral Switzerland has so far been spared the kind of large-scale jihadist attacks that prompted France and Germany this month to push for tighter European Union borders after suspected Islamist militants killed eight people in Paris, Nice and Vienna within a month.

But it has identified hundreds of residents deemed a threat and militants who have travelled to war zones.

Two men arrested in the town of Winterthur near Zurich this month over possible links to a jihadist shooting attack in Vienna that killed four people on Nov. 2 visited the attacker in July.

In September, a man Swiss media dubbed the "Emir of Winterthur" and described as a leading Islamist militant in Switzerland was sentenced to 50 months in prison for ties to Islamic State.

Federal prosecutors have said that a fatal stabbing of a Portuguese man in September in the town of Morges, in western Switzerland, was still being investigated for a possible"terrorist motive". A Swiss-Turkish national has been arrested.

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