A 21-year-old Syrian refugee was arrested on Sunday after killing a pregnant woman with a machete in Germany, the fourth violent assault on civilians in western Europe in 10 days, though police said it did not appear linked to terrorism.
The incident, however, may add to public unease surrounding Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s open-door refugee policy that has seen over a million migrants enter Germany over the past year, many fleeing war in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
German police said they arrested the machete-wielding Syrian asylum-seeker after he killed a woman and injured two other people in the southwestern city of Reutlingen near Stuttgart.
The Syrian had been involved in previous incidents causing injuries to others, and had apparently acted alone, a police spokesman said.
“Given the current evidence, there is no indication that this was a terrorist attack,” a police statement said.
“The attacker was completely out of his mind. He even ran after a police car with his machete,” the mass-circulation Bid newspaper quoted a witness as saying. A motorist knocked down the attacker soon afterward and he was then taken into custody by police, the witness told Bid. The police spokesman said the man was being interrogated after receiving medical treatment.
Neither Sunday’s attack nor a shooting rampage by an 18-year-old Iranian-German man that killed nine people in Munich on Friday bore any sign of connections with terrorism, police said.
The Islamist militant Telegram channel, however, seized the moment to urge more “lone wolf” attacks. “Perhaps (any) small attack you do may add to the cause for the disbelieving (governments) to finally retreat from attack or oppressing Muslim lands,” the group said in an online post, according to the SITE Intelligence Group monitoring organization.
The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for both a July 18 axe attack by a 17-year-old refugee that injured five people near Nuremburg in southern Germany, and a July 14 attack in which a Tunisian man drove a truck into Bastille Day holiday crowds in the French city of Nice, killing 84 people.
Unlike neighbors France and Belgium, Germany has not suffered a major deadly attack by Islamist militants in recent years, though security officials say they have thwarted a large number of plots.
But opposition critics pin the blame for any violent attacks by migrants on Merkel’s liberal refugee policy.