Germany probes Islamist motive in Cologne attack | News | DW | 17.10.2018

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Germany probes Islamist motive in Cologne attack

Prosecutors have suggested that a Syrian man may have acted on extremist sympathies when he staged the attack. The suspect allegedly demanded permission to join the "Islamic State" in Syria during police negotiations.

Watch video 00:28

Klaus Rüschenschmidt, Cologne Police: 'He had flammable liquid'

The federal prosecutor's office in Germany on Wednesday took over the case of a 55-year-old Syrian man accused of staging an attack at Cologne's central station earlier this week.

Prosecutors said there was enough evidence to suggest an Islamist motive in the attack, citing witness testimony that says he claimed allegiance to the "Islamic State" and demanded permission to travel to Syria to join the militant group during police negotiations.

However, police also noted that the unemployed asylum seeker may have suffered from psychological issues. After raiding his residence, police said they found little to link him to the group.

Read more: 'Germany needs a national strategy' for radicalization prevention

Special police commandos responding to a hostage-taking situation at Cologne central station

A highly-trained special police unit was deployed to secure the station and end the hostage-taking situation

What happened:

  • On Monday afternoon, a man threw a Molotov cocktail into a McDonald's at Cologne's central train station, injuring three people, including one seriously. An eyewitness told DW that a young woman fled the restaurant with her legs on fire. The attack triggered the fast food restaurant's alarms and sprinkler system.
  • Shortly after, the man took a female hostage at a nearby pharmacy. Police were immediately notified of the situation and deployed special commando units and a negotiation team to the scene. The man allegedly demanded the release of a Tunisian woman.
  • After establishing contact with the man, who appeared to be wielding a pistol, police stormed the pharmacy. During the operation, the man sustained a serious gunshot wound. The female hostage was freed and received medical attention afterward for light injuries.
  • Police combed the railway station, a major travel hub for Germany and Western Europe, to search for any other improvised explosive devices (IEDs). During their search, they discovered the identity documents for a 55-year-old Syrian migrant with a German residence visa valid until 2021.

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ls/aw (Reuters, dpa)

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