Police say 16-year-olds with links to Islamic extremism have ‘partially admitted’ to Saturday’s explosion
Two teenagers were allegedly behind an explosion in a Sikh temple in the German city of Essen that wounded three people, the city’s police president has said, calling the blast an “act of terror”.
The dreaded Islamic State terror group may be linked to the explosion at a gurudwara attack in Germany’s western city of Essen, a media report said on Thursday as police arrested two teenagers in connection with the “terrorist act”.
Suspicions of an ISIS involvement in the Saturday blast at the Nanaksar Satsang Sabha Gurudwara, which occurred at the end of a marriage ceremony, have hardened following the arrest of two 16-year-olds in the nearby town of Gelsenkirchen last night.
The Essen police president Frank Richter said the two 16-year-old boys from Essen and nearby Gelsenkirchen, whose identities were not given, were under arrest. One had come forward and the second was arrested at his parents’ home, the German news agency DPA reported.
Richter said Both boys had partially admitted” the attack, but had not talked about their motives. Police said both had clear links to Islamic extremism, and they were investigating whether the two were self-radicalised or part of a bigger group.
“We assume there will be more arrests,” Richter said, adding that 120 officers were involved in the investigation.
The two teenagers with known links to regional Islamists have been arrested over the attack which left three persons, including a priest, injured, said city police chief Frank Richter. “We have to presume it was a terrorist act — religiously motivated terror by the Islamist scene,” Richter said.
Earlier, one of the two men identified by police as Yusuf T, an ISIS sympathiser, is now treated by investigators as the main suspect in the attack, ARD TV network reported. He is known to the authorities as an activist in the Islamist scene in the Ruhr region of North Rhine Westphalia and has been actively involved in a campaign to distribute free copies of the Quran in the German-speaking region organised by a radical Salafist sect of Islam.
Yusuf also has links to “Lohberger-Brigade”, an alliance of radical Islamists in the town of Dinslaken, the report said. Most of German Islamists who have travelled to Syria to join ISIS militants had close links to LIES, the organisation behind the Quran distribution campaign, according to the report.
Yusuf had used his Facebook profile to carry out propaganda for the ISIS, it said. Media reports said earlier that his mask thrown into a bush was recovered by police and it was being subjected to DNA analysis.Police yesterday released photos and CCTV footage of two men suspected of planting a backpack containing a bomb in the entrance hall of the gurudwara.
One of them carried a backpack with the logo “Russel Athletic”. Investigators found the remains of a similar back pack in the debris of the explosion, according to police. India had expressed “distress” at what has been deemed as a deliberate act from the beginning. Top Indian officials have already taken it up at the highest level as Essen authorities assured India that all steps will be taken to ensure security for all minorities including the Sikhs.
A 60-year-old man suffered serious but not life-threatening wounds in the blast on Saturday and remains in hospital. Two other men, aged 47 and 56, suffered slight injuries.
The victims were members of a wedding party that had held a ceremony earlier at the temple. At the time of the blast, most people had already left the building.
The interior minister of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Ralf Jäger, said the two teenagers had attracted the attention of police before the attack.
He added: “I find it shocking that people who grew up among us are in a position and willing to build bombs and risk the lives of others.”