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Germany: Knife attack on train leaves several wounded

May 13, 2022

At least six people were wounded after an assailant attacked them with a knife on a passenger train near the western German city of Aachen. The suspect has been detained by police.

German emergency crews stand outside a passenger train in the western German municipality of Herzogenrath following a knife attack on board
German authorities have blocked off the area near the train following a knife attackImage: Ralf Roeger/dpa/picture alliance

Several people are being treated in hospital after being injured during an attack on a train in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), officials said on Friday.

Herbert Reul, the NRW state interior minister, said six people were wounded, including the suspected attacker. Reul said the suspect struck passengers "indiscriminately and arbitrarily."

Reul also said that "based on everything that we know so far," investigators believed the perpetrator's intent was to harm as many people as possible.

What do we know about the attack?

The attack took place on a regional passenger train around Herzogenrath, near the city of Aachen, on Friday morning.

Four people were taken to the hospital, although none of the passengers sustained life-threatening injuries. The victims sustained wounds to their hands and cut wounds to their faces. 

The suspect is a 31-year-old man who was born in Iraq, although his citizenship remains unclear, Reuel told reporters. The state interior minister added that investigators are probing a possible extremist motive behind the attack.

In 2017, the man was flagged by authorities as a person potentially at risk for religious radicalization after his behavior considerably changed during his time living in a refugee shelter, Reuel said. Since then, however, there have been no further incidents.

A 60-year-old federal police officer, who was off-duty and happened to be on the train, managed to overpower and detain the male suspect with the help of two other passengers, officials said. There were 270 passengers on board the train at the time of the attack.

Around 200 officers were deployed to the scene. Authorities have closed the track while investigations are ongoing.

rs/msh (dpa, AFP)