Ansbach explosion: Syrian asylum seeker kills himself and injures 12 in bombing

The 27-year-old, who had been denied asylum, dies after ‘deliberate explosion’ in southern German town

Ryan Wilkinson
Monday 25 July 2016 05:34
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Explosion in Ansbach, Germany

A Syrian man killed himself and injured 12 people after a “deliberate explosion” outside a music festival in the German town of Ansbach, officials say.

The 27-year-old detonated an explosive device near a bar in central Ansbach on Sunday evening - with three of those injured in a serious condition.

Around 2,500 people were evacuated from a nearby open-air music event where the attacker tried to gain entry.

Witnesses of the incident described seeing a rucksack explode, killing the man.

The dead man had been in treatment after twice before trying to kill himself, though Sunday's explosion was more than just “a pure suicide attempt”, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told Reuters.

An Islamist link could not be ruled out, he earlier told reporters - saying that in his view “it's very likely this really was an Islamist suicide attack” with a clear intention to cause multiple casualties

“It's terrible ... that someone who came into our country to seek shelter has now committed such a heinous act and injured a large number of people who are at home here, some seriously,” Mr Herrmann said.

He said investigators had yet to determine the motive of the attacks. “Because the rucksack and this bomb were packed with so many metal parts that could have killed and injured many more people, it cannot simply be considered a pure suicide attempt," he added.

Mr Herrmann said the man arrived in Germany two years ago and had been in trouble with local police repeatedly for a number of offences.

“It's a further, horrific attack that will increase the already growing security concerns of our citizens. We must do everything possible to prevent the spread of such violence in our country by people who came here to ask for asylum,” Mr Herrmann said.

Special police officers secure a street near the house where a Syrian man lived before the explosion in Ansbach

The attack comes as Germany reels from Friday's massacre in Munich that left nine dead and dozens injured.

It is the third attack to hit Bavaria in a week, following an Isis-inspired axe rampage by a teenager on Monday.

Police were alerted to a blast near the festival shortly after 10pm, with initial reports suggesting the incident was a gas explosion.

Witness Thomas Debinski described the “disturbing” scene as people in the small city came to realise a violent act had taken place.

“People were definitely panicking, the rumour we were hearing immediately was that there had been a gas explosion,” he told Sky News.

“But then people came past and said it was a rucksack that had exploded. Someone blew themselves up. After what just happened in Munich it's very disturbing to think what can happen so close to you in such a small town.”

Around 200 police officers and 350 rescue personnel flooded the scene and investigators later confirmed the blast had been caused by a bomb.

Bavaria's interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, said the suspect was a Syrian who had been rejected for asylum a year ago, but had been allowed to stay in Germany due to the civil war in Syria.

Michael Schrotberger, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office in Ansbach said the attacker's motive was unclear.

Investigators have appealed for any mobile phone footage taken at the scene of the attack, following similar appeals by Munich detectives who made their first arrest in connection with Friday's atrocity on Sunday.

The latest incident will add to a feeling of grief and insecurity in a country rocked by a spate of violent extreme acts.

On Monday a 17-year-old Afghan asylum seeker launched an axe and knife attack on passengers on a train in Wuerzburg.

Isis claimed responsibility for the attack in which five people were injured. The teenage axeman, Riaz Khan Ahmadzai, was shot dead by police.

On 14 July more than 80 lives were lost when a lorry ploughed into crowds watching a Bastille Day firework display in Nice, France. Isis said it was also responsible for the attack by 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.

Press Association

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