Julian Robinson, Daily Mail, July 20, 2018
A knifeman ‘carrying a smouldering backpack’ has wounded at least 14 people in a rampage on a packed bus in northern Germany.
Horrified witnesses described scenes of ‘carnage’ on the bus in the city of Luebeck as the man dumped his bag on the ground and launched an attack with a kitchen knife.
A victim who had just offered his seat to an elderly woman was stabbed in the chest while the bus driver, who was also attacked, slammed the brakes on so terrified passengers could flee.
A police car which happened to be close by in the Kuecknitz district of the city was able to reach the scene quickly and the suspect was overpowered and arrested. According to local newspaper Luebecker Nachrichten, he is in his 30s and has claimed to be from Iran.
While neither the motive nor full identity of the perpetrator have been established, a spokeswoman for prosecutors in Luebeck, Ulla Hingst, said this afternoon: ‘Nothing can be ruled out, including a terrorist background’.
Hingst also said police are investigating a suspicious rucksack after witnesses reported that the man had been carrying a ‘smouldering’ bag on the bus, which was heading to the Travemuende beach destination on the Baltic coast.
Germany has been on high alert after several deadly Islamist extremist attacks in recent years. Angela Merkel has come under intense pressure in Germany for her immigration policy and vowed not to quit earlier today.
Eyewitness Lothar H., 87, said the attacker pulled out a kitchen knife sparking chaos on the bus.
He told Luebecker Nachrichten: ‘Passengers jumped out of the bus and screamed, it was terrible, and then the injured were taken away.’
Officers said there were no fatalities but said three people had ‘medium serious’ injuries’. They did not give a motive for the assault.
It is not yet clear how many were on the bus, but local reports suggest officers are interviewinge 30 witnesses who were on board.
The incident happened ahead of the expected start today of the popular Travemuende Woche sailing regatta and festival. The bus was heading to the coastal resort.
Germany had long warned of the threat of more violence after several attacks claimed by ISIS, the bloodiest of which was a truck rampage through a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016 that left 12 people dead.
The attacker, Tunisian asylum seeker Anis Amri, hijacked a truck and murdered its Polish driver before killing another 11 people and wounding dozens more by ploughing the heavy vehicle through the festive market in central Berlin.
He was shot dead by Italian police in Milan four days later while on the run. Germany has since been targeted again in attacks with radical Islamist motives.
In July 2017, a 26-year-old Palestinian asylum seeker wielding a knife stormed into a supermarket in the northern port city of Hamburg, killing one person and wounding six others before being detained by passers-by.
German prosecutors said the man likely had a “radical Islamist” motive.
The ISIS also claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in 2016, including the murder of a teenager in Hamburg, a suicide bombing in the southern city of Ansbach that wounded 15, and an axe attack on a train in Bavaria that left five injured.
In June 2018, German police said they foiled what would have been the first biological attack with the arrest of a Tunisian suspected jihadist in possession of the deal poison ricin and bomb-making material.
Germany remains a target for jihadist groups, in particular because of its involvement in the coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, and its deployment in Afghanistan since 2001.
Germany’s security services estimate there are around 11,000 Islamic radicals in Germany, some 980 who are deemed particularly dangerous and capable of using violence. A hundred and fifty of these potentially dangerous individuals have been detained for various offences.