A pregnant German woman was killed by a machete-wielding man outside a bus station in Reutlingen, Germany, on Sunday. The suspect, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee, also injured two other people before he was taken into custody by local authorities.
German police said the man was known to them and had been involved in other violent attacks in the past, but he was not thought to have ties to any terrorist groups, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“There is no evidence that this was religious or terrorist-motivated,” said a police official.
Witnesses to the murder said the suspect was having a heated argument with the woman before he killed her with a machete or long knife. He then reportedly ran onto a busy street and attacked another woman in a car and a man at a nearby cafe. Neither victim suffered life-threatening injuries.
The Telegraph said the suspect was only stopped when a man driving a BMW struck him, allowing police to pin him to the ground and handcuff him.
German authorities are acting on tips that the suspect may have killed the woman over a relationship.
“According to what is currently known, this was a lone attacker,” a police spokesperson said via The Wall Steet Journal. “It is highly unlikely that there is any danger to the public in and around Reutlingen.”
While the woman’s murder may have been an isolated incident, the attack comes just two days after an 18-year-old Iranian-German man shot and killed nine people in a Munich shopping mall, and less than a week after a 17-year-old Afghan man attacked several people with an ax on a Nuremburg train, injuring five.
The violence, combined with the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, that killed 84 people, has left the German public on edge and given opponents of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy more political leverage.
According to Reuters, more than one million asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have entered Germany since the beginning of 2015, and critics of Merkel’s refugee policies use violent attacks to stir up anti-immigration sentiments among Germans.
The news wire reported that a member of the anti-immigrant group Alternative for Germany posted and then deleted a Twitter message reading, “Merkel’s unity party: thank you for the terror in Germany and Europe!” after the shootings in Munich.
The New York Post noted German investigators believe the perpetrator of the Munich crime, David Ali Sonboly, was obsessed with mass shootings and not motivated by terrorist groups. He apparently planned his attack for over a year, writing a manifesto and photographing the site where another teen killed 15 German school children in 2009.
While the motivations of the attackers in Germany and France have been unclear, Reuters noted the Islamic State claimed responsibility for them, and Telegram, an Islamist militant channel, used the incidents to encourage more “lone wolf” attacks against those “oppressing Muslim lands.”
On Sunday, officials in the southwest German state of Baden-Württemberg, where Reutlingen is located, expressed relief that the suspect was quickly taken into custody.
“Thank God the attacker was captured,” said Interior Minister Thomas Strobl. “My thoughts are with the victims and the relatives of the dead woman and the injured.”
German authorities said the suspect received medical treatment and was being questioned by investigators. The identity of the woman killed has not yet been released.
[Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images]