Why did the blue-eyed woman with long black hair blow herself up and kill two others at midnight mass?

A Christmas Eve service in a Frankfurt church ended in carnage when a woman blew herself up, killing herself and two of the congregation. German police issued a photograph yesterday of the severed head of a woman, with blue eyes and long black hair, believed to be responsible for the attack. She appears to have left no note.

Yesterday, as investigators sifted through the church and heard the testimonies of shocked witnesses, the only clue was a mis-shapen torso and the unknown head blasted clear of the body. What lay inside that head to ordain the extinction of three lives may never be known.

The suspect, aged about 30, was thought to have detonated two hand-grenades strapped to her body, just as the Lutheran congregation began to sign the first hymn during the late-night service. Two sisters, aged 59 and 61, who were sitting near her, died instantly. Thirteen people were injured, including a mother and her 12-year-old daughter, who were in critical condition in hospital last night.

Investigators were confident that the attack was not linked to terrorism or politics. "The evidence indicates that she was disturbed and wanted to kill herself in a spectacular action," said a police spokesman.

The suspect entered the small church in the working class suburb of Sindlingen, shortly after the pastor opened the service at 11pm. She sat in the third pew from the back, and although it was warm inside, she did not remove her coat. Witnesses recall seeing her sitting still, with her face shrouded by a scarf, her eyes apparently fixed on the Christmas tree next to the pulpit.

The grenades went off as the 70-strong congregation rose to sing, 15 minutes into the service. Worshippers at the front of the church recalled hearing a muffled bang behind them. By the time they had swung around, the orderly rows in the back had become unrecognisable. Crumpled blue hymn sheets littered the floor. The pews had been reduced to splinters, covered with broken bodies. The red carpet in the aisle was torn up, with blood-soaked garments lying scattered in the middle. A pair of twisted spectacles had been propelled across the hall. And the white walls were splattered with charred human remains.

The worshippers, mostly local people who knew each other well, fled in panic from the church, only to run back, fearing that the attack had come from outside.

"At this point we can only speculate about the cause of this criminal act," said Manfred Feist, the city's police spokesman. "The evidence indicates that she was disturbed and wanted to kill herself in a spectacular action."

Frankfurt's police chief, Wolfhard Hoffmann, said: "I have no idea who could have done such a thing on a day like this. We are completely baffled."

n A baby boy born on Christmas Eve froze to death while his homeless mother wandered through the German city of Goettingen looking for a warm place to stay, police said yesterday.

Wrapped in a blanket, the boy was cold and lifeless when his 28-year- old mother finally reached a homeless shelter to escape the icy night, a spokesman said.

She had given birth only hours earlier in a deserted house in the university city and the boy at first seemed healthy, she told police.

A doctor who hurried to the shelter could only pronounce the infant dead and determine there were no signs of any violence on the corpse, the spokesman said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect