“Shots” were fired at a church in Hamburg’s Gross Borstel district and “several” people were killed and others seriously injured, police in the northern German metropolis said on Thursday. . “A large number of law enforcement agencies are on site,” Hamburg police added on Twitter.
Several German media reported at least six dead. The daily Picture evokes a “bloodbath” and affirms that the facts took place “in a church of Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
“Around 9 p.m., one or more unknown persons shot at people in a church,” said the Federal Office for Civil Protection. “Avoid the danger zone. In the danger zone, stay where you are and do not go outside at this time,” the Agency said in a statement.
615 Islamists deemed dangerous
The German authorities have remained on the alert in recent years in the face of a double terrorist threat, jihadism and right-wing extremism. Germany has been the victim of jihadist attacks, in particular a ram truck attack claimed by the Islamic State group which killed 12 people in December 2016 in Berlin. This jihadist attack is the deadliest ever committed on German soil.
Germany remains a target for jihadist groups, in particular because of its involvement in the coalition fighting the IS group in Iraq and Syria and in the one that was deployed in Afghanistan after 2001.
Since 2013 and until the end of 2021, the number of Islamists considered dangerous in Germany has increased fivefold to currently stand at 615, according to the Interior Ministry. That of the Salafists is estimated at around 11,000, twice as many as in 2013.
After a warning from the FBI, the German authorities notably announced on January 8 the arrest of two Iranians suspected of having wanted to commit an “Islamist” chemical attack using ricin and cyanide.
Threat of far-right terrorism
Another threat hangs over Germany, embodied by the far right, after several deadly attacks in recent years targeting community or religious places. In the racist attack in Hanau, near Frankfurt (west), perpetrated in February 2020, a German involved in the conspiracy movement had killed nine young people, all of foreign origin.
Between 2000 and 2007, a neo-Nazi group called NSU had already murdered nine migrants and a policewoman. Two of its members committed suicide before their arrest and the third, a woman, was sentenced to life imprisonment.