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Hamburg supermarket attacker a ‘known Islamist’

Police in the German city of Hamburg say the suspect in a deadly knife attack in a supermarket on Friday was what they call a “known Islamist but not a jihadist”.

One person was killed and seven others injured in the attack, which occurred in the Barmbek area to the north of the city. The assailant shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Greatest”) as he fled the scene of the crime in a neighbourhood supermarket before being overpowered by passers-by, witnesses recounted.

The Hamburg State Interior Minister, Andy Grote, told reporters: “What we can say at the moment about the perpetrator’s motive is that there’s a link to religious motives, Islamic motives.

“On the other hand, there is also evidence of mental instability.”

The suspect is a 26-year-old migrant who had requested asylum but was refused. Authorities say previously they were unable to deport the man because he had no identification papers.

Investigators say they believe the suspect acted alone, but the possibility that there were accomplices has not yet been totally ruled out.

The attack was the first in Germany since Tunisian Anis Amri drove a truck into crowds at a Berlin Christmas market on 19 December, killing 12 and injuring 48. 

In a related development, German police have ruled out terrorism after an Iraqi gunman killed one person and injuring three others in a nightclub in the southern city of Konstanz in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The 34-year-old assailant died in hospital from his injuries after a gunfight with police outside the venue. A police officer also was wounded.

Witnesses say the attacker had a machine gun and shot at the crowd indiscriminately.

Police said the Iraqi national, who had lived in Germany for several years, was not an asylum seeker.

They added that the motives of the man who acted alone still are unclear, but there may have been a dispute among criminals that led to the shooting at ‘the Grey club’ in an industrial part of the city, on Max-Stromeyer-Strasse.

Kwame Appiah

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