An explosion at a gurudwara in Germany’s Essen city was a “terror attack” carried out by radical Islamists, authorities have said for the first time, terming it as an “entirely new” strike targeting Sikhs.
After the interrogating two teenagers, investigators said the blast was “religious motivated terror of the Islamist scene”, Essen’s police commissioner Frank Richter said on Thursday.
The blast ripped through the entrance hall of a gurudwara on Saturday evening during a wedding ceremony and damaged part of the building, shattering windowpanes and injuring three people, including a priest.
The interior minister of the state of North Rhine Westphalia, Ralf Jaeger, spoke of an “Islamic background” to the blast and called for a thorough investigation into the incident.
It also must be investigated who are the other people with whom the two terror suspects were in contact, he said.
Jaeger said it was “entirely new” that the Sikh community in Germany had been targeted.
The two terror suspects’ affiliation to a particular group cannot be established right now, Richter told a news conference in Essen.
German TV network ARD on Thursday reported that one of the two men arrested, identified by police as Yusuf T, is an Islamic State (IS) sympathiser and investigators treat him as the main suspect in the attack.
He is known to the authorities as an activist in the Ruhr region of NRW. He also has close links to “Lohberger-Brigade”, an alliance of radical Islamists in the town of Dinslaken, the report said.
The suspects are believed to have planted an explosive device hidden in a backpack in the entrance hall of the gurudwara. It went off at the end of a marriage ceremony.
Around 70 police officials are working round-the-clock to investigate the attack.
More arrests in this connection cannot be ruled out, Richter said.
He assured the Sikh community that they can feel secure in the city and the authorities would do everything to protect them.