ANSBACH, Germany: A Syrian migrant set off an explosive device near an open-air music festival in southern Germany that killed himself and wounded a dozen others, authorities said Monday, the third attack to hit the region in a week.
The 27-year-old had spent time in a psychiatric facility, but the authorities said an Islamist motive for the attack on Sunday night in the city of Ansbach appeared “likely.”
Germany is reeling after nine people died in a shopping center shooting rampage in Munich on Friday and four people were wounded in an axe attack on a train in Wuerzburg on July 18.
All three attacks were in Bavaria, which has been a gateway for tens of thousands of refugees under German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal asylum policy.
Police said the man intended to target the music festival on Sunday but was turned away because he did not have a ticket, and set off the explosive device outside a nearby cafe.
The perpetrator was killed in the blast, police said in a statement, and a spokeswoman said 12 people were wounded, three of them seriously.
“My personal view is that it is very likely that this was a real Islamist suicide attack,” regional interior minister Joachim Herrmann said.
Herrmann added that beyond the heightened security fears, he was worried “the right to asylum would be undermined” by the events of the past week.
Sunday’s explosion happened just outside a cafe in Ansbach city center, not far from where more than 2,500 people had gathered for the concert, at around 10 p.m. (2000 GMT).
Attacker known to police
Police blocked off the area and emergency services were at the scene. Bomb experts were also sent to determine the cause of the blast.
Ansbach deputy police chief Roman Fertinger said there were “indications” pieces of metal had been added to the explosive device.
Herrmann said the attacker, who came to Germany two years ago but had his asylum claim rejected after a year, had tried to kill himself twice in the past and had spent time in a psychiatric clinic.
The assailant, who lived in Ansbach, was already known to police, in particular for an offence linked to drugs, Herrmann also told news agency DPA.
Stephan Mayer, a deputy from Merkel’s conservative bloc, insisted that it was “completely wrong to blame Angela Merkel and her refugee policy” for the rash of violence over the last week.
But Mayer told the BBC that the 1.1 million migrants and refugees Germany let in last year represent a “big challenge” for law enforcement, even as the influx has dwindled in recent months.
“We were not able to register and control all the migrants that crossed the German border,” said Mayer, interior affairs spokesman for the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats. “We have to regain sovereignty and we have to regain the rule of rights. There’s a lot of space for improvement.”
Europe has been on edge for months after a string of deadly attacks claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group, including bombings in Brussels and carnage at Bastille Day celebrations in the southern French city of Nice.