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What we know about the Reutlingen knife attack

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What we know about the Reutlingen knife attack
Police arrest the attacker. Photo: DPA
10:54 CEST+02:00
On Sunday evening, a 21-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker killed a woman and injured five people with a carving knife in the southwest German city of Reutlingen - the third attack to hit Germany in a week.

A 45-year-old woman was killed in the attack from wounds to the head and five others were injured - three more than initially reported.

The attacker's knife was between 30cm and 40cm long, and it seems that he took it from the kebab shop where both he and the victim worked. The knife was originally reported to be a machete, a detail which has now been confirmed as false.

A 20-year-old worker at the restaurant, Mohammad Alhelo, told the Stuttgarter Zeitung: "He ran through the restaurant with the cleaver and swung it over his head - I was scared and ran away."

Alhelo described the victim as a Polish woman who worked as a dish washer at the restaurant and said that the attacker, who had arrived in Germany a year and a half ago, was "in love" with the woman. Several German media outlets have reported that the woman may have been pregnant, however this has not been confirmed by police.

Attacker hit by car

Emergency calls to police initially stated that the man and woman were arguing, however no motive has yet come to light. Many people witnessed the attack, which took place near the main station just before 4:30pm. After attacking the woman, the asylum seeker cut through the windows of a car with two people inside. A 51-year-old woman suffered cuts to her forearm and was taken to hospital, where her male companion was also treated for shock.

The attacker also injured a 23-year-old man, and two women, aged 54 and 21, as he attempted to flee.

A witness hit the attacker with his car, knocking the man to the ground so that police were able to arrest him seven minutes after the first attack. The perpetrator could not be immediately interrogated due to his own injuries, which a police spokesperson said are not life-threatening, and he has been hospitalized under police guard.

Nationality 'played no role'

After police described the perpetrator in a statement as a Syrian asylum seeker, many rushed to link the crime to Islamic extremism.

But a police spokesperson said that the attacker's nationality and asylum status "played no role" in the attack, according to broadcaster n-tv, adding: "But we call a spade a spade."

A terrorist motive was eliminated, however the attacker was known to police for previous offences of inflicting bodily harm and drug offences.

Police said shortly after the attack that the perpetrator acted alone and that Reutlingen is not under any specific threat. However, many of the witnesses to Sunday's attack are in shock and are being treated by local clinics.

Correction: this article originally stated Reutlingen is in Bavaria. It is in fact in Baden-Württemberg.

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