Radical Islamists Behind German Gurudwara Blast: Police

The interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Ralf Jaeger spoke of an “Islamic background” to the blast.

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A police officer passes by the gurdwara where  three people were injured in an  explosion in Germany. (Photo: AP)

An explosion at a gurudwara in Germany’s Essen city was a “terror attack” carried out by radical Islamists, authorities have said, terming it as an “entirely new” strike targeting the Sikhs.

Two teenagers were detained in connection with the blast and were subsequently interrogated. Essen’s police commissioner Frank Richter said on Thursday said that investigators believe that the blast was a “religious motivated terror of the Islamist scene”

The blast ripped through the entrance hall of the gurudwara on Saturday evening during a wedding ceremony and severely damaged parts of the building, besides shattering windowpanes and injuring three persons, including the 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 to establish to what extent the two youths were radicalised.

He added that the authorities were also looking into who the two youths were in contact with.

Jaeger said it’s “entirely new” for the Sikh community in the country to become the target of a terror attack.

The two terror suspects’ affiliation with a particular group cannot be established at the present stage of the investigation, Richter told a news conference in Essen. German TV network ARD yesterday reported that one of the two men arrested, identified by police as Yusuf T, is an Islamic State (IS) sympathiser and investigators are treating him as the main suspect in the attack.

He is known to the authorities as an activist in the Islamist scene 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.

Photos and video sequences of CCTV footage showing the two men released by police on Wednesday helped the authorities to apprehend them, Richter said.

They 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 the marriage ceremony.

Around 70 police officials are working round-the-clock to investigate the attack and to evaluate the evidence collected.

More arrests 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.

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