A Hong Kong family was among the victims of the axe assault carried out by a teenage Afghan asylum seeker on a train near Würzburg. The Chinese city's government advises Hong Kong tourists in Germany to remain cautious.
On Monday night, a 17-year-old Afghan asylum seeker went on a stabbing rampage with a knife and an axe near the southern German city of Würzburg, some 280 kilometers (174 miles) northwest of Munich. The suspect was shot dead by police shortly after, said Joachim Herrmann, the interior minister of Bavaria state. Several people were critically injured in the attack.
A horrifying act
Four of the injured victims were a family of tourists from Hong Kong. The 62-year-old father, his 58-year-old wife, their daughter, 26, and her boyfriend, 30, were seriously injured, while the couple's 17-year-old son escaped unscathed.
Authorities in the Chinese special administrative region have denounced the assault. The city's top official, Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying (main picture), condemned the attack and extended his condolences to the victims and their families.
"The authorities are in constant contact with both the Chinese foreign ministry and consulates in Germany as well as the German Embassy in Beijing, to continue to monitor the situation," reads a press release from the city government.
As this is a period of holidays for schools in Hong Kong, many families from the city are currently on vacation in Europe.
As recently as last Friday, July 15 - at the start of the holiday season - China's foreign ministry issued a travel advisory asking Chinese tourists to remain cautious in light of the recent terror attacks worldwide. It called on travelers to check the security situation in the country they want to travel to. Germany is designated as a "safe country" and "at the moment, there are no travel warnings or special instructions with regard to Germany," Su Meng, a Beijing-based tour operator, told DW.
The Hong Kong government has also not issued a travel warning, and the immigration department has only stated that Hong Kong travelers should remain cautious and avoid large public gatherings.
Media reports suggest that Hong Kong's immigration authorities would send a team to Germany as early as Tuesday, July 19. Relatives of the victims have also been informed about the incident and they too might come to Germany.
No understanding for German refugee policy
The attacker was a 17-year-old asylum seeker from Afghanistan. He "brutally went after other passengers on the train," said Interior Minister Herrmann. When police searched his room following the attack, they found a hand-painted "Islamic State" (IS) flag.
Meanwhile, IS claimed that the attacker was one of its "fighters." The 17-year-old Afghan "carried out the operation in response to calls to target states in the coalition fighting 'Islamic State,'" the terrorist group's news agency Aamaq said.
The initial reactions of Internet users in China after the attack were one of incomprehension about the German refugee policy.
"Liaowanghai" wrote on the news portal ifeng, "How can one continue to accept refugees with a clear conscience? Think of the story of 'The snake and the farmer' from Aesop's Fables." In the ancient Greek story, a farmer rescues a snake from freezing with help of his own body heat, but it later bites its rescuer in the chest and kills him.
But another user named "CC19891223" is now worried that all asylum seekers will be placed under "general suspicion."