Three people were killed in an attack in Germany on Friday by a Somali immigrant, who officials said was placed under compulsory psychiatric treatment days earlier.
The suspect was identified as a 24-year-old Somali immigrant, who was shot in the leg by police and arrested after the Friday afternoon attack in Wurzburg, Germany. Police said his life was not in danger and he was being questioned in hospital.
The knifeman killed at least three people and wounded at least five others in the street rampage at Barbarossaplatz in Wurzburg’s downtown area, according to local media reports.
The man, whose name was not released by police, had lived in the German city of Wuerzburg since 2015, the same year that Germany opened its borders to more than a million migrants and refugees fleeing war and poverty.
The suspect had most recently lived in a shelter for the homeless in the city and apparently did not know the victims.
Bavaria’s top security official, Joachim Herrmann, said the suspect had been known to police and had been admitted to a psychiatric unit just a few days earlier.
‘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.
On Saturday, investigators were looking for a motive behind the attack in the German city of Wuerzburg, which saw three people killed and five others wounded.
Herrmann told news agency DPA on Friday that he couldn’t rule out an Islamic extremist motive because one witness had reported hearing the suspect shout ‘Allahu akbar,’ Arabic for ‘God is great’.
‘That suggests a possible Islamist motive, and that is also part of the investigation,’ he added.
Among the three dead in the knife attack was a young boy and one of his parents, according to Main Post newspaper.
People were seen leaving bouquets of flowers at a makeshift memorial which had been set up on Saturday at the scene in tribute to the victims of the deadly attack.
Police officers were seen at the scene of the attack this morning as people placed flowers, candles and other items in memory of those killed in the horrific rampage.
As investigators continue to try and pinpoint the suspect’s motive, police said there was no indication that there were any other attackers, and that the situation was now under control.
Videos posted on social media showed pedestrians surrounding the attacker and holding him at bay with chairs and sticks at Barbarossaplatz in Wurzburg on Friday.
The videos matched the reported location of the attack, though it was not immediately possible to confirm when they had been made.
Another video showed one man, armed with a bag, attempting to scare off the knifeman by shouting at him before he disappeared off screen.
A woman who said she had witnessed the incident told German RTL television that the police then stepped in.
Julia Runze said: ‘He had a really big knife with him and was attacking people. Then many people tried to throw chairs or umbrellas or cellphones at him and stop him.’
‘The police then approached him and I think a shot was fired, you could hear that clearly.’
‘The attacker was overpowered after police used a firearm,’ Lower Franconia police said on Twitter. ‘There are no indications of a second suspect. There is NO danger to the population.’
Bavaria’s top security official Joachim Herrmann confirmed five people are in a serious condition and it is ‘not certain’ if they will live following the attack.
A video posted to social media showed a man, armed with a bag, attempting to scare off the knifeman by shouting at him before he disappeared off screen
The videos of members of the public chasing the knifeman matched the reported location of the attacks on and around Wurzburg’s central Barbarossaplatz
A witness reported that the knifeman shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ before the attack, he added.
However, a police spokesperson said none of the suspect’s previous offences were linked to terrorism.
Police spokeswoman Kerstin Kunick said officers were alerted at around 5pm to a knife attack in Barbarossa Square in the centre of the city.
Bavaria’s governor Markus Soeder expressed shock at the news of the attack. ‘We grieve with the victims and their families,’ he wrote on Twitter.
Police said on Twitter that there was no danger to the population.
Bavaria’s top security official Joachim Herrmann was on his way to Wurzburg, a city of about 130,000 people located between Munich and Frankfurt.
Local media earlier reported multiple stabbings in Wurzburg, a city of some 130,000 people south-east of Frankfurt.
Police had sealed off parts of the city centre for a ‘major operation’ on Friday afternoon and asked residents to stay away.
Footage of the incident posted online showed barefoot attacker wielding a long knife in Barbarossaplatz.
A second man, armed with a bag, can be seen circling the knifeman and shouting at him.
He then disappears off screen as the suspect hurls the knifeman towards him. Several bystanders than intervene.
Another video posted on social media appeared to show blood on the ground.
The clips matched the reported location of the attacks on and around Wuerzburg’s central Barbarossaplatz, though it was not immediately possible to confirm when they had been made.
The knifeman was overwhelmed by police after being shot in the leg. He was taken into custody.
Several victims were treated by emergency services. No information on their condition was released.