Sun, May 28, 2006 - Page 6 News List

German teen injures 27 in Berlin knifing spree

TRAIL OF BLOOD A 16-year-old mingled with the crowd leaving a sound-and-light show and then began to randomly slash and stab people in a narrow street


A knife-wielding teenager went on a rampage and attacked pedestrians as they left a celebration in Berlin, wounding 27 people, four of them seriously, police said yesterday.

Police arrested a 16-year-old suspect, a German native of Berlin's working-class Neukoelln district, police spokesman Bernhard Schodrowski told reporters.

Police had earlier incorrectly given the suspect's age as 17.

None of the victims had life-threatening injuries and there were no children among them, Schodrowski said. Police could not confirm reports in some media that tourists were among the injured.

The attack comes amid a rash of racially motivated crimes, including several in Berlin, that have raised concern about security two weeks before Germany hosts the football World Cup.

The attacker had mingled with crowds leaving a sound-and-light show inaugurating Berlin's new central rail station in the heart of the capital on Friday night. He began to randomly attack people in a narrow street, which made it difficult for police and emergency services to reach the scene, leading to the high number of injured, Schodrowski said.

"Many of the injured went to the hospital on their own and we are only now beginning to get a clear idea of the numbers," he said hours after the attack. Police were urging victims to register with them to help with their investigation.

Panic broke out among the crowd and 11 ambulances and about 100 officers were called to the scene, Schodrowski said.

The motive for the attack was not immediately known, Schodrowski said, although the suspect was known to police for previous acts of violence. It was not clear if the attacker was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Schodrowski said.

Several hundred thousand onlookers had packed the city center to watch the festive inauguration of the city's new main train station, touted as the largest in Europe and the final major construction project for the German capital's government sector.

Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the opening ceremonies several hours before the attack occurred and praised the new, light-flooded station as a symbolic bridge between Germany's formerly divided east and west.

"It is a modern, open building, symbolic for Berlin and for Germany," Merkel said.

The new station straddles the path of the former Berlin Wall, which divided the city during the Cold War. Construction took eight years and the project cost an estimated 800 million euros (US$1 billion). Some 300,000 passengers a day are expected to use the station's 14 platforms.

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