4 of a Hong Kong family hurt in ‘IS attack’ on German train
2 of the injured in critical condition; IS says one of its “soldiers” carried out the ax and knife attack; hand-painted IS flag found in the room of Afghan refugee who was shot dead
Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the ax and knife attack on the train in Würzburg, Bavaria, that left four members of a Hong Kong family injured on Monday night.
Two of the injured are in critical condition.
IS said the attack was carried out by one of its “soldiers”, according to French newspaper Le Figaro.
IS news agency Amaq claimed the 17-year-old Afghan refugee who carried out the attack had “executed the operation in response to calls to target nations in the coalition fighting the Islamic State.”
Earlier, investigators recovered a hand-painted flag of IS from the room of the attacker in Ochsenfurt.
This is probably the first attack claimed by IS in Germany.
The Hong Kong immigration department said it was providing assistance to the family following the attack in Würzburg, AP reported.
The South China Morning Post newspaper reported that the family members hurt included the 62-year-old father, 58-year-old mother, 27-year-old daughter and her 31-year-old boyfriend.
A fifth family member, a 17-year-old son, was not hurt. The paper did not cite its source.
Hong Kong’s top official, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, condemned the attack and extended his sympathies to the victims and their families.
A statement from his office said that representatives from Hong Kong’s office in Berlin were visiting the injured Hong Kong residents.
The 17-year-old Afghan refugee, wielding an ax and a knife, began attacking several passengers aboard the train around 9.15 pm Monday as it left Treuchtlingen and was approaching Würzburg station. Four passengers were seriously wounded while another escaped with minor injuries.
Speaking on German public television, Interior Minister for the state of Bavaria Joachim Herrmann said two of the victims are suffering from life-threatening injuries and 14 passengers are suffering from shock.
Information gathered so far indicates the perpetrator had been acting alone, Herrmann said.
The attacker had been living in Germany for the past two years in a home for unaccompanied minors in Ochsenfurt near Würzburg. Two weeks back, he moved to a foster home.
Reuters reports that the attack comes just days after a Tunisian delivery man ploughed a 19-ton truck into crowds of Bastille Day revelers in the southern French city of Nice, killing 84.
According to the news agency, it is likely to deepen worries about so-called “lone wolf” attacks in Europe and could put political pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who welcomed hundreds of thousands of migrants to Germany over the past year.
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” with blood covering the floor.
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 attacker fled the train when it halted at a station on the outskirts of Würzburg.
A special police swat team that happened to be in the area on another call shot him several times when he tried to attack them.
German media, citing a spokesman for the Bavarian interior ministry, reported that the man had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) during the attack on the train, but neither Herrmann nor police officials could confirm that.
In a similar incident in May, an unstable man attacked four people at a commuter stop outside Munich with a knife, fatally wounding one. Like in Würzburg, eyewitnesses there reported that the man shouted “Allahu Akbar” before launching the attack.
IS did not claim responsibility for that attack.
Unlike neighbors France and Belgium, Germany has not been the victim of a major attack by Islamic militants in recent years, although security officials say they have thwarted a large number of plots.
Germany welcomed roughly 1 million migrants in 2015, including thousands of unaccompanied minors. Many were fleeing war in countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to Dr. David Arn, a Middle East expert at Ludwig Maximilian University in
Münich, IS claim of the German train attack, the its flag found in the Afghan boy’s
foster home and his refugee status may be good reasons for German right wing parties
to warn the Merkel government about the threat posed by refugees to German
This may force the government to take tougher security measures against refugees who,
driven to the wall, will be ultimately forced to create Islamic State in Europe.