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German police officer injured in Mannheim knife attack dies

June 2, 2024

A police officer has succumbed to his injuries after intervening in a knife attack earlier this week at an anti-Islam rally. He had been in a coma with stab wounds to the back of the head.

A group of police officers stand, heads bowed, in front of an impromptu memorial with flowers and candles near the scene of the crime in Mannheim. Sunday, June 2, 2024.
Police, who were present in numbers in Mannheim again on Sunday keeping the peace between rival protesters, also paid tribute to their fallen colleagueImage: Thomas Frey/dpa/picture alliance

A German police officer died of his injuries after being stabbed several times while trying to pull somebody clear of a knife attack in Mannheim on Friday, police and prosecutors said in a joint statement late on Sunday. 

The 29-year-old officer had been in the hospital in a coma following the attack

"He underwent an emergency operation immediately after the crime and was put into an artificial coma, but succumbed to his serious injuries late in the afternoon on Sunday, June 2," the joint statement said. "We mourn a police officer who gave his life for our safety." 

Police officer dies after Mannheim knife attack: DW's Nina Haase


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What do we know about the suspect?

A 25-year-old man was filmed stabbing the police officer and five members of an anti-Islam group calling itself PAX Europa at a booth in the city center. One of those injured was a member of the group's advisory board, Michael Stürzenberger.

Investigators earlier said the suspect was an Afghan citizen who had been resident in Germany for around a decade. He had no criminal record and had not come to law enforcement's attention in the past, they said.

The suspect was eventually shot by police. As of Saturday evening, he was alive but in the hospital and in no fit state to be interrogated, according to investigators. As a result, they said, his motives and the reason for his attack required further investigation.

Politicians pay tribute, police union warns of 'daily' violence

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was "deeply dismayed" to hear that the officer had died. 

"His dedication to everyone's safety deserves the very highest respect," Scholz said.

The state premier of Baden Württemberg, where Mannheim is located, Winfried Kretschmann, said the news "shocks me to the core," and offered condolences to the victim's family, friends and colleagues. 

"This awful crime puts the often incalculable risks police officers are exposed to daily painfully before our eyes," Kretschmann said. "We owe them the highest respect and reverence as a society." 

State Interior Minister Thomas Strobl said "these are moments where the world seems to stand still." 

"He gave his life because he stepped in to protect other people," Strobl said of the 29-year-old officer. Other regional politicians rushed to pay similar tributes.

The head of the state chapter of one of Germany's main police trade unions, meanwhile, voiced not only sorrow but also frustration. 

"The violence that we face daily is merciless, brutal, inhuman and often fatal," Ralf Kusterer said.

Rival protests and responses to Friday's knife attack meant that police were back in operation in central Mannheim on SundayImage: Thomas Frey/dpa/picture alliance

Mannheim police back in action in city center amid rival rallies in response

Meanwhile, police were present in numbers in central Mannheim again on Sunday, amid at least three public demonstrations in response to the attack. 

A cross-party organization had called for a human chain to be formed through much of the city center against violence and hate, attracting between 800 and 1,000 people, according to the police. 

At the same time, the youth wing of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party organized a demonstration of around 150 at the market square under the motto "remigration would have prevented this crime," in reference to the party's preferred term for forced repatriation of people with migrant backgrounds.

Left-wing antifascist activists also showed up for a spontaneous counter-demonstration that had not been registered beforehand. Police could be seen clashing with these protesters and encircling or "kettling" them, with law enforcement saying this was to stop them from attacking the far-right protesters.

"Around 15:15, a group of people, some obscuring their faces, tried to disturb the gathering at the market square and violently advance on them. Some of these people were armed with torches. The attack on the market square could be prevented by a swift police intervention. In this context it was necessary to use pepper spray," Mannheim police said of the incident. 

Police said they took down the personal information of the 40 people involved in the counter-protest. One was being investigated for allegedly assaulting a police officer. 

msh/ab (AFP, dpa)

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