Syrian man kills himself, injures 12 others in blast outside German music festival

A 27-year-old Syrian man denied asylum in Germany a year ago died on Sunday when he set off a bomb outside a crowded music festival in Bavaria, the fourth violent attack in Germany in less than a week, a senior Bavarian state official said.

Police said 12 people were wounded, including three seriously, in the attack in Ansbach, a small town of 40 000 people southwest of Nuremberg that is also home to a US Army base.

The incident will fuel growing public unease surrounding Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy, under which more than a million migrants have entered Germany over the past year, many fleeing wars in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

“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,” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told reporters at a hastily convened news conference early on Monday.

“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,” he said.

Herrmann said it was unclear if the man, who arrived in Germany two years ago and tried to commit suicide twice before, had planned to kill only himself or “take others with him into death”.

It was the fourth violent incident in Germany in a week, including the killing of nine people by an 18-year-old Iranian-German gunman in Munich on Friday.

Explosives, metal parts
Hermann said the man, whose identity has not yet been released, had been living in Ansbach for some time. Although his application for asylum had been denied, he was not in danger of being deported immediately given the civil war raging in Syria.

He said he could not exclude the possibility of an Islamist-inspired attack, noting the man’s backpack was filled with explosives and metal parts that would have been sufficient to kill more people. He said investigators would work tirelessly to investigate the attack and fully understand the man’s motives.

One US intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said investigators would focus on what the bomber was doing before he left Syria, why he was denied asylum, and whether the attempted attack was personal or political.


Herrmann said the man had apparently been denied entry to the Ansbach Open music festival shortly before the explosion, which happened outside a restaurant called Eugens Weinstube.

More than 2 000 people were evacuated from the festival after the explosion, police said. A large area around the blast site remained blocked off hours later.

Ansbach resident Thomas Debinski said people panicked when they heard the explosion, especially after the events of the past week.

“Suddenly you heard a loud, a really loud bang, it was like an exploding sound, definitely an explosion,” he said. “(People were) definitely panicking.”

Debinski said it soon became clear that someone had set off a bomb in a rucksack.

Earlier on Sunday, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee was arrested after killing a pregnant woman and wounding two people with a machete in the southwestern city of Reutlingen, near Stuttgart.

“After what just happened in Munich, and today in Reutlingen, what you hear about, it is very disturbing, when you know that such a thing can happen so close to you, in such a small town as Ansbach,” Debinski said.

A refugee from Pakistan wielding an axe wounded five people near Wuerzbuerg, also in southern Germany, before he was shot dead by police a week ago.

Police said neither Sunday’s machete attack nor Friday’s shooting in Munich bore any sign of connections with Islamic State or other militant groups.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the July 18 axe attack in Wuerzbuerg. The group also claimed responsibility for the July 14 attack France, in which a Tunisian man drove a truck into Bastille Day holiday crowds in the French Riviera city of Nice, killing 84 people. 

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Reuters
Guest Author
Advertising

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it
Advertising

Press Releases

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations