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Four seriously injured in ‘probable’ Islamist ax attack on German train

Local police kill 17-year-old Afghan as he attempts to flee after slashing at commuters in Bavaria, shouting ‘Allahu akbar’

Rescuers gather on a road near railtracks in Wuerzburg southern Germany on July 18, 2016 after a man attacked train passengers with an ax. (AFP PHOTO / dpa / Karl-Josef Hildenbrand)
Rescuers gather on a road near railtracks in Wuerzburg southern Germany on July 18, 2016 after a man attacked train passengers with an ax. (AFP PHOTO / dpa / Karl-Josef Hildenbrand)

German police shot dead a 17-year-old Afghan on Monday night after he attacked passengers on a train with an ax and a knife, seriously wounding four people, in what was “probably” an Islamist attack, officials said.

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.

Joachim Herrmann, the interior minister of Bavaria state, said the attacker was a 17-year-old Afghan who had lived in nearby Ochsenfurt.

“It is quite probable that this was an Islamist attack,” said a ministry spokesman, adding that the attacker had shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest).

However he stressed that the investigation was ongoing and that the assailant appeared to have acted alone.

The Afghan refugee accused of carrying out a terror attack in Germany in a video released by IS on July 19, 2016. (YouTube screenshot)
The Afghan refugee accused of carrying out a terror attack in Germany in a video released by IS on July 19, 2016. (YouTube screenshot)

The attack happened around 9:15 p.m. (1915 GMT) on the train, which runs between and Wuerzburg in Bavaria.

“Shortly after arriving at Wuerzburg, a man attacked passengers with an ax and a knife,” a police spokesman said.

Four people were reported seriously injured and one other lightly injured. Fourteen people were treated for shock.

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.

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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.

“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,” a police spokesman said.

Hermann later said that the teenager was shot when he attacked police while trying to flee the scene.

A special police force unit happened to be nearby and was able to mobilize quickly, Hermann added.

Germany last year registered more than 1 million migrants entering the country, including more than 150,000 Afghans, but it was not immediately clear whether the suspect was among them or someone who had been in the country for a longer time.

A rescuer stands on a road near railtracks in Wuerzburg southern Germany on July 18, 2016 after a man attacked train passengers with an ax (AFP PHOTO / dpa / Karl-Josef Hildenbrand)
A rescuer stands on a road near railtracks in Wuerzburg southern Germany on July 18, 2016 after a man attacked train passengers with an ax (AFP PHOTO / dpa / Karl-Josef Hildenbrand)

Herrmann said initial information was that the suspect came to Germany as an unaccompanied minor and had lived in the Wuerzburg area for some time, initially at a refugee facility in the town of Ochsenfurt and more recently with a foster family.

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.

Germany has thus far escaped the kind of large-scale jihadist attacks seen in the southern French city of Nice last week, in which 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel used a truck to mow down people leaving a Bastille Day fireworks display, killing 84 people. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group.

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