German police doubt terror link in knife attack

German police on Monday said they had found no indication yet that a knife-wielding Turkish man shot dead after trying to attack officers had a terrorist motive, adding that he had psychological problems.

German police doubt terror link in knife attack
Police officers in a cordoned-off area outside of the police station on Sunday evening. Photo: DPA

The 37-year-old struck a parked patrol car with a bat in the city of Gelsenkirchen on Sunday and threatened two officers standing by the vehicle with a knife, local police said in a statement.

One of the officers fired his gun four times, killing the assailant. Investigators are still looking into reports that the man shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greater) during the assault.

READ ALSO: Police shoot dead knife-wielding attacker in western Germany

While police so far cannot definitively rule out an extremist link, a search of the man's home has “not confirmed initial suspicions of a terrorist motive”.

Investigators also have evidence that the attacker suffered from “a psychological illness” and was known to police for previous acts of violence including against law enforcement officials.

The inquiry is ongoing, the statement added.

Germany remains on alert following a series of Islamist attacks, the deadliest of which was a truck rampage at a Berlin Christmas market in 2016 that killed 12 people.

Dozens of suspects have been arrested or charged over alleged terror plots
in recent years.

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German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.