Three people were murdered and five others were badly injured in a knife assault in southern Germany on Friday by a 24-year-old Somali immigrant who had been placed under mandatory mental care in recent days, according to officials.
By shooting a bullet into the attacker’s leg, police were able to halt and capture him in the town of Wuerzburg. His injuries, they claimed, were not life-threatening.
“Three are dead and five very seriously injured,” regional Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said after arriving on the scene. “With the most seriously injured we are not sure they will survive.”
The man had lived in Wuerzburg since 2015, the year Germany opened its borders to more than a million migrants and refugees fleeing war and poverty. His life was not in danger and he was being questioned by police in hospital, Herrmann said.
“His condition had been noticed in recent months, including violent tendencies, and a few days ago he was put into compulsory psychiatric treatment,” Herrmann said.
Later, he told public television that, according to one witness, the suspect had called “Allahu akbar”, an Arabic phrase meaning “God is great” and often associated with acts of Islamist terrorism before starting his spree.
“That suggests a possible Islamist motive, and that is also part of the investigation,” he added.
Among the three dead was a young boy and one of his parents, Main Post newspaper said.
As is standard practice in Germany, police did not release the name of the suspect.
Police said there was no indication that there were any other attackers, and that the situation was now under control.
Social media videos showed a presumably barefoot guy with a large knife being repelled by other men wielding chairs until police arrived. Another footage showed blood on the ground.
The films matched the stated location of the attacks on and around Wuerzburg’s central Barbarossaplatz, however it was not immediately clear when they were carried out.
Reuters video from the area showed dozens of police and rescue cars.
Wuerzburg, a 130,000-person historic city located 100 kilometres (62 miles) south-east of Frankfurt, was five years ago the scene of a knife attack on a train by a 17-year-old Pakistani asylum seeker in which five people were injured, two seriously.