‘Deliberate attack’: Blast injures 12, kills suspected bomber in Germany’s Ansbach
The incident took place in the central part of the city, close to an area in which a music festival took place at the weekend, Suddeutsche Zeitung reported. Police have cordoned off the area around the restaurant and are conducting a crime scene investigation.
“The explosion in downtown Ansbach was not a gas explosion, but was caused by an explosive device,” Ansbach Mayor Carda Seidel confirmed. Seidel also said that it should not be ruled out that there could have been several explosions.
The attacker was a 27-year-old Syrian who had entered the country about two years ago, but had been refused asylum, Bavarian authorities told a press conference. His application was rejected a year ago but the man was allowed to stay in Germany temporarily, due to ongoing hostilities in Syria.
Police said that they do not yet know whether the attacker had a radical Islamist background. The investigation currently focused on the attacker’s communications.
The man who was killed by the explosion initially survived the blast but later succumbed to his wounds, a police spokesperson cited by weekly German news magazine, Focus. His injuries were consistent with the close detonation of an unknown explosive device, leading authorities to believe that he was the perpetrator.
The police have set up an operations center in City Hall and a crisis team has been formed. A special police task force (SEC) has also been deployed. Volunteer firefighters from Nuremberg, Katzwang and Almoshof were called in to assist authorities.
A spokesman for the Bavarian interior minister said that the explosion in the Eugene Weinstube restaurant was a “deliberate” act rather than an accident.
“At present we assume it is not an accident," the spokesman said.
Initial reports indicated that a gas leak may have caused the incident, but the mayor of the city, announced that authorities believe it was triggered by an improvised explosive device.
According to media reports, the explosion occurred in front of a restaurant shortly after 10:00pm local time. A music festival nearby was forced to end and around 2,500 visitors were evacuated.
Police and rescue workers are currently engaged in a large-scale operation. Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann is en route to the area, according to his spokesman.
Mobilizing emergency forces and heavily armed police in the streets of Ansbach, Germany after the explosion. pic.twitter.com/inZxNxD5QT— Isaac Cohen (@IHWCo) July 24, 2016
Heavily armed police and rescue personnel are on site, and a helicopter with search light has been circling the city.
According to unconfirmed reports, a man with a backpack had been denied entry to a nearby music festival just before the explosion.
#Ansbach - Witness reports claim just before before the explosion a man with a backpack was denied entry to the music festival— Gregor Peter (@L0gg0l) 24. juli 2016
Ansbach is located in the German state of Bavaria, some 40km (25 miles) from Nuremberg and around 150 km (93 miles) northwest of Munich.