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Hamburg police investigate axe murder of Syrian activist

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Hamburg police investigate axe murder of Syrian activist
Photo: DPA
17:05 CET+01:00
Hamburg police are investigating the murder of a Syrian pharmacist and refugee activist who was killed in an axe attack in the city’s Harburg district on Tuesday evening.

The man was found on the footpath outside his apartment early on Tuesday evening with several axe wounds to his upper body. His unconscious body was transferred to hospital but he died a short time later. 

Named Mohamed J. due to German privacy laws, the man had lived in Hamburg for years and was a prominent member of the local community. He studied, worked and later married in Hamburg, while retaining links with aid groups in his native Syria. 

Aside from running a pharmacy in the neighbourhood, he was also known as the chairman of an association which provided support and integration help for Syrian refugees. 

He had also presented a number of lectures to the German Red Cross on Syrian customs and practices while he had also returned to Syria to help refugees during the Civil War. 

Police said on Friday that they were searching for two men seen in the Harburger Rathausstraße area on the evening in question. One was armed with a hammer, the other with a hatchet. 

The police indicated they were still investigating a motive for the murder, but that it did not appear to be a random attack. 

Bild reported on Friday that the man was an outspoken critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the Hamburger Abendblatt reported that he had been a member of a Syrian shadow government organization. 

Flowers and candles were visible outside the Vivo Pharmacy in Harburg on Friday morning, with mourners leaving notes of support to the man’s wife and two children. 

 
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