Two teenage Islamists have been detained in west Germany, after admitting to bombing a Sikh temple, stoking religious and ethnic tensions.
“The accused have clear links to the terrorist scene”, said Frank Richter, the police chief of Essen near Dusseldorf, where the attack occurred. He also confirmed at the press conference that two 16-year-old Salafi Muslim youths have partially confessed to the crime.
News of the attack has stirred ethnic tension in the notably ‘multicultural’ area. News reports, photos and videos of the seemingly unprovoked bombing have been shared widely online, caused uproar among Sikhs all over the world.
In response, the temple was place under police guard and the Indian consul-general based in Frankfurt made a special trip to Essen to meet with city authorities, and to try and calm the situation.
The bomb exploded at a temple belonging to the Sikh Gurdwara Nanaksar congregation on Saturday at around 7 pm, wounding three people. One victim, who was seriously hurt, was a 60-year-old Sikh priest.
A wedding has occurred earlier in the day, attracting around 200 people including children. In an audio recording of the attack, obtained by the Sikh Channel, the explosion is heard disrupting a musical performance.
The young men thought to be responsible were “already known to the police for more” officers said. They identified the bombers after multiple tip offs in response to CCTV images that were released, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ) reports.
One of the suspects handed himself in at a police station voluntarily in Gelsenkirchen. The other was arrested by special forces on Thursday night at his family home in Essen.
The local Mayor, Mr. Thomas, said he was stunned and could not understand how two young Muslims had become “radicalised”.
He said that, “it worried me that there should be two 16-year-old who had come to such a wrong path”, before asking: How is this radicalisation occurs?”