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Germany says axe attacker was ‘goaded’ by Daesh propaganda

Published July 20th, 2016 - 04:00 GMT
 German police shot dead a 17-year-old Afghan refugee Monday after he attacked train passengers with an axe and a knife. (AFP/File)
German police shot dead a 17-year-old Afghan refugee Monday after he attacked train passengers with an axe and a knife. (AFP/File)

A teenager who carried out a knife-and-axe attack on a German commuter train was a lone wolf who was "goaded" by Daesh propaganda, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Wednesday amid confusion about the attacker's identity and motive.

A video circulated by Daesh supporters on Tuesday shows the 17-year-old refugee waving a knife and vowing to commit an attack in Germany, but there is no evidence that he received direct instructions from the extremist group, de Maiziere said.

The Interior Ministry has confirmed the authenticity of the video and says multiple witnesses have confirmed the footage was filmed in Germany.

"It is perhaps a case that occupies a grey area between a crazed rampage and a terrorist act," de Maiziere said at a press conference held two days after the teen injured five people by attacking them with a knife and an axe on a commuter train headed for Wuerzburg in southern Germany.

German media reported Wednesday that the perpetrator, registered in Bavaria as an Afghan asylum seeker, was in fact from Pakistan and may have faked his identity in order to improve his chances of gaining a residence permit.

Documents found in the adolescent's room showed that he had Pakistani citizenship, German public broadcaster ZDF reported citing security sources.

A hand-painted Daesh flag and Pashto-language writings - including a goodbye note to his father and a text calling on Muslims to arm themselves - were also found in his room with a German foster family. Pashto is spoken in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

De Maiziere said that the influx of underage refugees from conflict zones was dangerous because young people are more prone to traumatization and because their arrival creates a "vacuum" that will lead to a large inflow of family members.

Germany welcomed 1.1 million migrants in 2015, mostly from conflict zones including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearly 15,000 of them were children who travelled to Europe without legal guardians.

The minister said that efforts to reduce the influx - which included a crackdown on people smugglers and the closure of the Western Balkan route - had been proven right, because a smaller refugee population would allow greater control over those susceptible to radicalization.

He also spoke about counter-terrorism measures put in place by the German government in recent months, adding that 11 extremist attacks - including 10 on German soil - had been thwarted by security forces.

Two Chinese tourists remain in a critical condition following Monday's attack. Three other people were injured, with police eventually shooting the attacker dead.

By Friederike Heine

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