More than 20 people were injured at a church in Germany after mass panic ensued when a ‘mentally confused’ Somali stormed into an Easter service, shouting and throwing stones.
Two dozen people were treated for injuries, including four hospitalised with minor injuries after the 36-year-old suspect burst into St Paul’s Church in Munich at 9.30 pm Saturday, about an hour into the Easter Vigil of its Croatian Catholic community.
Local media said there was chaos when many of the approximately 500 people at the service were caught in a stampede to the church’s exit, with eyewitnesses recalling their terror as the intruder reportedly shouted and pelted stones.
Jozo Dramac, who attended the vigil with his wife and son, said he was “still scared” after the night’s events, reporting that churchgoers became panicked when “someone screaming in Arabic shouted, ‘Allah, Allah’, I understood.”
Marko Vidovic, a teacher from Laim, talks about the incident on Saturday night: “I heard someone screaming loudly. The church was full of visitors. People have thrown themselves anxiously on the ground, others have run and stumbled. Children screamed.”
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Another witness told the Munich tabloid tz: “To all the mothers who I saw grab their children and run to the door for their lives, I hope they will be able to forget that awful experience.”
Another witness was reportedly pushed aside by the offender, who he recalled: “ran past me, rammed my elbow into his side and shouted ‘Allah hu akbar’ while throwing something”.
“A few big guys who were in attendance at the service were able to pull him to the ground and hold him until the police arrived,” he said.
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Described as ‘mentally confused’ by Süddeutsche Zeitung, the homeless man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of disturbing the public peace and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm, according to a police spokesman, who stressed that officers had “no evidence that this was a planned act”.
The suspect, a Somali national, was only known to police as a result of minor offences and was not considered to pose a threat to the public, added the spokesman.
“Whether the accused actually shouted ‘Allah hu Akbar’, or whether this could just be misinformation, is still under review,” according to a separate police statement, which reported that the suspect “entered the church… gesticulating and shouting unintelligible words. In addition, he is said to have thrown several stones.”
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