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WUERZBURG, Germany, July 19, (AP): A 17-year-old Afghan asylum-seeker received word that a friend had died in his home country days before he went on a rampage with an axe and knife on a German train, wounding five. He vowed in a note that he would “take revenge on these infidels,” German investigators said Tuesday.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Monday night attack, but authorities say so far they have found no direct links to the group and believe the suspect, whose name was not released, self-radicalized.
German officials didn’t identify the victims, but Hong Kong’s immigration department said that among those injured in the attack were four members of a family of five from the southern Chinese city.
At least two of the five wounded were in a life-threatening condition. Investigator Lothar Koehler said the teenager’s motivation appeared to be Islamic extremism based upon a passage, found among various notes in his apartment, which read: “Pray for me that I can take revenge on these infidels and pray for me that I will go to heaven.”
In the premeditated attack, the suspect boarded the regional train after 9 pm near the Bavarian city of Wuerzburg with an ax and knife concealed in a bag, according to Bamberg prosecutor Erik Ohlenschlager.
He said that the suspect had learned on Saturday that a friend had died in Afghanistan, but didn’t immediately give more details about the possible link.
On the train, the suspect initially en-countered an employee from the asylum shelter where he had lived until two weeks ago when he moved in with a foster family, and when she said something to him he didn’t respond but left for another train car, Ohlenschlager said. He then concealed himself in a bathroom, and armed himself with his weapons. “Then, without warning, he attacked the passengers using great force on their bodies and their heads,” Ohlenschlager said.
In an emergency call from the train, the suspect could be heard in the background shouting “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” as he hacked and slashed. Witnesses said the interior of the train was covered with blood and looked “like a slaughterhouse,” the German news agency dpa reported.
About 30 passengers were on the train at the time. More than a dozen were treated for shock. After the train made an emergency stop, the suspect fled and a few hundred meters (yards) away encountered two women walking a dog. He attacked one from behind, saying “I’ll finish you” and yelling a vulgar term for a woman in German, as he hit her at least twice in the face with the axe.
Shortly after, he encountered a police SWAT team that had been in the area on another mission but had been redirected, jumping out at them from bushes brandishing his ax. He was shot and killed.
Ohlenschlager said that at least two victims were suffering from “acute lifethreatening” wounds, including the woman attacked outside the train. Though the Islamic State group claimed responsibility through its Aamaq news agency and a hand-painted IS flag was found in the suspect’s apartment, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said the suspect’s handwritten notes indicated he may have been selfradicalized and there was “no indication” he was directly connected to the group.
Aamaq released a video that purported to show the attacker, in which a young man waves a knife toward the camera and says “I will behead you with these knives and break your necks with these axes.”