July 24, 2021

Knife attack in Würzburg: suspect calls act “jihad”

A man apparently attacks people indiscriminately with a knife. At least three did not survive the attack in Würzburg. There are initial assumptions about the perpetrator’s motive.

After the fatal knife attack in Würzburg, the focus is now on the alleged perpetrator’s motif. Also on Saturday night, the police said they were there with numerous emergency services to investigate the background and the course of the crime. What is known about the crime so far and what is not.

What is known about the subject

It is still unclear why the 24-year-old Somali killed three people with a knife and seriously injured at least five others in the city center late on Friday afternoon. The attacker who was shot and arrested after the crime may be mentally ill. According to the investigators, an Islamist motive of the attacker is also being examined.

As t-online learned from investigators, the suspect said after the fact that he had carried out his “jihad”. The alleged perpetrator made statements that suggest religious fanaticism. According to “Bild”, investigators also found propaganda material from the terrorist group “Islamic State” in the homeless shelter where the suspect last lived. According to reports, however, there are no indications of any contact with militant Salafists. After talks with the 24-year-old, he has not yet recognized any Islamist motives, said the attacker’s lawyer.

Bavaria’s Minister of the Interior, Joachim Herrmann, did not rule out an Islamist attack either: “In any case, there are indications that it could be an Islamist attack,” he told the German Press Agency. According to him, a witness stated that the suspect had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (German: God is great) during the crime. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) spoke of a rampage on Saturday. Interior Minister Hermann said at a press conference on Saturday that a lone perpetrator was assumed.

Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann informs about the act: It could have been an Islamist-motivated attack. (Source: Daniel Karmann / dpa)

The police stopped the alleged perpetrator with a targeted shot after passers-by showed them the way. The perpetrator was taken to hospital with a thigh wound. According to the police, he also gave brief information there. What exactly he said was initially unclear. On Saturday the police want to hold a press conference to inform about the status of the investigation.

What is known about the alleged perpetrator

According to the police, the suspect had already been violent and mentally exposed in the past few months. Only a few days ago he was admitted to a psychiatric facility, said Interior Minister Herrmann. According to the police, the 24-year-old has lived in Würzburg since 2015, most recently in a homeless shelter.

He is said to have been born in 1997 in the Somali capital Mogadishu. According to information from the German Press Agency, the Somali received subsidiary protection in Germany. This means that the person is not entitled to asylum, but is at risk of serious damage in the country of origin.

What is known about the victims

Three people died and at least five were seriously injured. Two are still in mortal danger. The police have not yet disclosed anything about her condition. It is still unclear how many other people were injured. The “Main Post” reported that ten people were injured. The police initially did not want to confirm this number on Saturday: “The investigations are still ongoing.”

Knife attack in downtown Würzburg: Two young men light a candle in front of a closed and locked shop in the city center.  (Source: dpa / Karl-Josef Hildenbrand)Knife attack in downtown Würzburg: Two young men light a candle in front of a closed and locked shop in the city center. (Source: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand / dpa)

A little boy is said to be among the injured, his father is said to be dead. Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said, according to the “Main Post”, that the victims were predominantly women and that the perpetrators had chosen them at random. The perpetrator and the victim should not have known each other.

What is known about the course of events

A police task force secured the crime scene in Würzburg on Friday.  (Source: dpa / Karl-Josef Hildenbrand)A police task force secured the crime scene in Würzburg on Friday. (Source: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand / dpa)

The perpetrator stabbed passers-by apparently indiscriminately and without warning in the city center on Friday afternoon. The crime began around 2 p.m. in a “Woolworth” branch in the city center at Barbarossaplatz. The perpetrator asked the household department about knives, took one and stabbed the saleswoman, who then died, said police chief Lower Franconia Gerhard Kallert.

The retail chain said it assumed it was the target by chance. You work closely with the security authorities to help solve the crime. The perpetrator had asked for a knife in the shop, as reported by “Spiegel” and “Bild”.

Civil courage in Würzburg

Courageous citizens stood in the way of the attacker in the city center. In the clips distributed on the Internet, several people could be seen trying to overpower the attacker. A man attacked the 24-year-old with a broom, others were seen with chairs in hand. Read more about this here. Police President Kallert thanked the citizens for their intervention on Saturday.

The act is reminiscent of an Islamist attack almost five years ago in Würzburg. On July 18, 2016, four people were seriously injured on a train. A 17-year-old Afghan refugee attacked the travelers with an ax and a knife on a regional train on the way to Würzburg. He then fled on foot, attacked a strolling woman and was finally shot by the police.