Hamburg knife attacker mentally unstable

  • 30/07/2017
Police investigators work at the crime scene
Police investigators work at the crime scene. Photo credit: Reuters

A migrant who killed one person and injured six others in a knife attack in a Hamburg supermarket is a radicalised Islamist known to German security agencies, but is also believed to be mentally unstable.

Officials said on Saturday the agencies had believed he posed no immediate threat.

Hamburg Interior Minister Andy Grote told a news conference that Friday's 26-year-old attacker was registered in intelligence systems as an Islamist but not a violent one as there was no evidence to link him to an imminent attack.

He also said the attacker, a Palestinian asylum seeker who could not be deported as he lacked identification documents, was psychologically unstable.

Police said on Friday the man was born in the United Arab Emirates.

The Palestinian mission in Berlin had agreed to issue him with documents and he had agreed to leave Germany once these were ready, a process that takes a few months.

"What we can say of the motive of the attacker at the moment is that on the one side there are indications that he acted based on religious Islamist motives, and on the other hand there are indications of psychological instability," Grote said.

"The attacker was known to security forces. There was information that he had been radicalised," he said.

"As far as we know... there were no grounds to assess him as an immediate danger. He was a suspected Islamist and was recorded as such in the appropriate systems, not as a jihadist but as an Islamist."

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is on a summer vacation and is seeking a fourth term in office in September, praised the civil courage of Hamburg residents who threw chairs and other objects at the attacker, helping police to detain him.

Prosecutors say the attacker pulled a 20cm knife from a shelf at the supermarket and stabbed three people inside and four outside. A 50-year-old man died of his injuries.