Germany has been shaken again by another bloody attack by a young refugee.
Late on Sunday (July 24), a 27-year-old Syrian refugee died when a bomb he was carrying in his rucksack went off outside a music festival in Ansbach, in the southern German state of Bavaria. The man had reportedly been denied entry to the festival as he didn’t have a ticket.
Around 12 people were injured, three seriously. The attacker had been denied asylum in Germany a year ago, but permitted to stay temporarily in the country in view of the situation back home. According to the German interior ministry, the man was meant to be deported to Bulgaria.
“My personal view is that I unfortunately think it is very likely this really was an Islamist suicide attack,” Joachim Herrmann, the Bavarian interior minister, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (link in German). “The obvious intent to kill more people at least indicates an Islamist background.”
The interior minister said that he had tried to take his own life twice and had spent time in a psychiatric clinic.
A few hours earlier, another Syrian refugee attacked and killed (link in German) a Polish woman he worked with in a fast-food restaurant with a 80-cm (31-inch) knife, and injured two others in the town of Reutlingen in south-west Germany.
According to police, who arrested the young man at the scene, the attack happened after an argument broke out between the man and woman. They said the attack wasn’t terrorism-related.
These two incidents came less than a week after a 17-year-old Afghan refugee wielding an axe attacked people on a train in southern Germany and was shot dead whilst fleeing by police.
The biggest attack of the past seven days was actually not committed by an asylum-seeker: an 18-year-old dual German-Iranian national shot and killed nine people in a shopping mall in Munich on July 22. He was mentally unstable, and had been planning the attack for a year.
The fact that three out of the four bloody attacks in the last seven days were committed by refugees raises fresh concerns in Germany about the government’s refugee policies and what the authorities are doing to oversee these traumatized young men.
Criticism of chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to accept over a million refugees last year hit its peak after hundreds of women reported being sexually attacked by men of Middle Eastern origin in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, but subsided somewhat after a deal with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants into Europe. Now the issue of controlling or integrating refugees, especially young single men, is back front and center.
A Pew Research survey released earlier this months showed that 61% of Germans linked the increasing numbers of refugees in their country to an increased risk of terrorism.
According to Europol’s latest terrorism report, one in four suspects arrested last year on terror offences was 25 or younger. That figure was one in six in 2013. The report said that these so-called lone wolves tend to suffer from mental-health problems and tend not to be known to the security services.