One person was killed and four injured in a stabbing attack on Friday at a supermarket in Hamburg, Germany, police said. The incident happened 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.
Authorities identified the attacker as a 26-year-old man who was born in the United Arab Emirates, but they did not provide his name or citizenship status.
News website Spiegel Online reported that the individual was named Ahmad A., who arrived in Germany seeking asylum and had contact with the Islamist scene, as well as a history of mental health problems and drug use.
The attacker had been scheduled to be deported, but the process had been held up as he lacked identity papers, Mayor Olaf Scholz said.
The attack had been motivated by “hate,” he said, although he stopped short of declaring it a terrorist incident.
“These criminals want to poison our free society with fear, but they will not succeed,” Scholz added.
If confirmed as an Islamist attack, it would be the first in Germany since Tunisian Anis Amri drove a truck into crowds at a Berlin Christmas market on December 19th, killing 12 and injuring 48.
Police spokesman Timo Zill told local media the investigation was in its early stages and that no possible motive was being excluded, including terrorism.
He said the suspect was armed with a kitchen knife when he entered the supermarket and started stabbing customers. A 50-year-old man was killed in the attack, police said. Four others were injured inside the store before the suspect fled the scene and attacked a passerby, Zill said.
The injured include a 54-year-old woman and four men, ages 64, 57, 56 and 19. Some of the victims’ wounds are severe, and they are being treated in local hospitals.
Witnesses followed the man and managed to restrain him until police arrived and arrested him.
Hamburg police have confirmed that the suspect was “definitely a lone attacker.”
Kwame Appiah with agency report