It is not yet clear whether the alleged perpetrator, a 24-year-old Somali, deliberately chose women as victims. This will require further investigation.
The man, of Somali nationality and arrived in Germany as an asylum seeker in May 2015, was able to be subdued thanks to the intervention of passers-by, several of whom politicians praised the civic courage.
Shortly after 5:00 p.m. local time (3:00 p.m. GMT) on Friday, he killed three women, including a saleswoman, in a department store in the Bavarian town of 130,000 inhabitants.
He then attacked other people in a nearby savings bank and then in the street, seriously injuring six people, one of whom was between life and death.
At a press conference on Saturday in Würzburg, the Bavarian Minister of the Interior, Joachim Herrmann considered that “the signs of a possible radicalization towards Islamism” and those showing that the young man of 24 years suffered “from possible psychiatric problems were not mutually exclusive ”.
According to testimony reported by Mr. Herrmann, the attacker, who lived in a homeless shelter, shouted “Allah Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) while carrying out the attack.
The national anti-terrorism prosecution was not seized at this stage and investigators said they could not confirm whether propaganda material from the Islamic State (IS) organization had been found at the home of the aggressor, such as the ‘claimed media.
The analysis of two mobile phones is also in progress.
On the other hand, the young man, who has a residence permit in Germany, has had trouble twice since the beginning of the year with the justice which had ordered his provisional internment in a psychiatric hospital.
In the last incident, this month, he was out of the establishment after 24 hours, said Wolfgang Gründler, prosecutor of Bamberg.
Germany was in shock after these “brutal assassinations”, according to Joachim Herrmann.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the investigation would reveal what motivated the attacker. “But what is certain is that this horrible act is directed against all humanity and all religions,” he tweeted.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “shocked” as the attacker displayed “extreme brutality”.
The pretty city of 130,000 inhabitants woke up dazed: residents came to lay flowers and candles at the scene of the attack, noted an AFP journalist.
“I’m sad and in shock, that’s why I came here today. It’s the least we can do, ”said one resident, Franziska.
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party took up the case to denounce “the Islamist knife killings in the heart of Germany”, according to a tweet from its co-president, Jörg Meuthen .
The AfD, which has built much of its discourse on the rejection of Islam and immigration, also saw this attack as “further proof of the failure of (Angela) Merkel’s migration policy. “.
The candidate of the conservatives and possible successor of Angela Merkel to the chancellery Armin Laschet, for his part, expressed his “great respect” towards “the courageous citizens who quickly intervened” to stop the aggressor.
The candidate of the Greens, Annalena Baerbock, also sent “a big thank you” to the rescue teams and “to the courageous citizens” who intervened.
Amateur videos broadcast on Friday evening on social networks showed scenes of great violence.
The assailant, barefoot and wearing a protective mask, staggered, long knife in hand, in the street as passers-by tried to stop him by grabbing chairs from café terraces and sticks. The man was eventually arrested by police who shot him in the thigh.
The German authorities are on the alert regarding the Islamist threat weighing on Germany, particularly since a ram truck attack claimed by the Islamic State group which killed twelve people in December 2016 in Berlin. This jihadist attack is the deadliest ever committed on German soil.