9 injured in apparent knife attack on German bus

A man apparently armed with a knife attacked passengers on a busy bus in the northern German city of Luebeck on Friday before being overpowered and arrested, authorities said, and nine people were reportedly injured.

Suspect arrested by police in northern city of Luebeck after being overpowered

First responders gather near the scene of a reported knife attack on passengers on a bus in Luebeck, northern Germany. (Felix Koenig/EPA)

A man apparently armed with a knife attacked passengers on a busy bus in the northern German city of Luebeck on Friday before being overpowered and arrested, authorities said, and nine people were reportedly injured. 

Authorities had no immediate information on the assailant's motive for the attack on a city bus in Luebeck, which is near the Baltic coast northeast of Hamburg.

Local newspaper Luebecker Nachrichten, which said the attacker appeared to be in his mid-30s, quoted a witness as saying: "One of the victims had just given up his place to an older woman, when the attacker stabbed him in the chest."

Firefighters attend to passengers injured during the attack. At least one person sustained serious injuries. (TNN/dpa/The Associated Press)

Earlier, police in Schleswig-Holstein, the state where Luebeck is located, tweeted there was a major police deployment underway. An area around a bus stop in the Luebeck neighbourhood of Kuecknitz was sealed off by police, spokesperson Dierk Duerbook told German newspaper Bild.

A spokesperson for prosecutors, Ulla Hingst, told n-tv television that the bus driver stopped the vehicle and let the passengers out after the attack. She said the weapon that the assailant apparently used was a knife, but that is still under investigation.

Hingst told Bild the attack took place at 1.47 p.m. local time.

Experts were also examining a backpack on the bus as a precaution. Hingst said it wasn't clear whether it belonged to the suspect, but said there had been reports of smoke coming out of the backpack. Police and prosecutors later said in a joint statement that investigators found a flammable substance in the backpack, but no explosives.

Suspect identified

They said that the suspect was identified as a 34-year-old German citizen who lives in Luebeck. His name wasn't released, in line with German privacy rules.
 
"There are no indications that the man was politically radicalized," the statement added. "There are also no indications at present of a terrorist background."

Passengers get onto a replacement bus after the attack, which took place on a busy bus in the Kuecknitz district of Luebeck. (Felix Koenig/EPA)

Schleswig-Holstein's state interior minister, Hans-Joachim Grote, said his information was that nine people were injured — six with the knife, two passengers who fell and the driver, who was punched.

Police said in a statement released at the same time that one of the injured was seriously hurt, but said the total number of injured wasn't initially clear.

The bus was travelling from Luebeck to the neighbouring seaside resort of Travemuende, where an annual regatta, the Travemuender Woche, was opening later Friday.

Grote said authorities believe security for the regatta is sufficient.

With files from Reuters