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Syrian asylum-seeker blows himself up, injures 15 in Germany

A Syrian man whose asylum bid had been rejected in Germany recorded a cellphone video of himself pledging allegiance to ISIS before he tried to get into an outdoor concert with a bomb-laden backpack. He was turned away and blew himself up outside a wine bar instead, injuring 15 people, authorities said Monday.

The man had recently been told he would be deported to Bulgaria

A policeman with a machine gun stands guards early Monday in Ansbach, Germany. (Daniel Karmann/EPA)

A Syrian man whose asylum bid had been rejected in Germany recorded a cellphone video of himself pledging allegiance to ISIS before he tried to get into an outdoor concert with a bomb-laden backpack. He was turned away and blew himself up outside a wine bar instead, injuring 15 people, authorities said Monday.

ISIS has claimed responsibility.

It was the fourth attack to shake Germany in a week — three of them carried out by recent migrants.

The 27-year-old, whom authorities have not identified, set off a backpack laden with explosives and shrapnel Sunday night after being refused entry to the nearby festival in the Bavarian city of Ansbach because he didn't have a ticket.

Bavarian authorities said a video found on the Ansbach bomber's phone showed him pledging allegiance to ISIS. Germany's top security official, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, had said it was too early to rule out terrorism as a motive, but noted that the suspect had twice attempted suicide and had been receiving psychological care.

"Or it could be a combination of both," de Maiziere said.

The attack was carried out by "one of the soldiers of the Islamic State," the extremist group said.

The ISIS-linked Aamaq news agency said the man carried out the attack in response to calls by the group to target countries of the U.S.-led coalition that is fighting ISIS.

​Man was to be deported to Bulgaria

Roman Fertinger, the deputy police chief in nearby Nuremberg, said there likely would have been more casualties if the man had managed to enter the concert venue.

Four of the 15 victims suffered serious injuries in the blast.

"My personal view is that I unfortunately think it's very likely this really was an Islamist suicide attack," Bavarian interior minister Joachim Herrmann told German news agency dpa. 

Herrmann said the man's request for asylum was rejected a year ago, and a spokesman for Germany's interior ministry said he had received two deportation notices.

Tobias Plate said the man was most recently told on July 13 that he would be deported to Bulgaria, where he submitted his first asylum request.

Police investigate a backpack that lies at the entrance of a building in Ansbach. (Daniel Karmann/dpa/Associated Press)

Plate told reporters that the first deportation notice was issued on Dec. 22, 2014, but it wasn't clear why he hadn't been deported then. Asylum-seekers are routinely deported back to the first country where they registered if they don't follow proper procedures, even if they're considered to have a legitimate claim for asylum.

Asylum shelter raided

Authorities on Monday morning raided the asylum shelter where he lived in the suburbs of Ansbach and searched his room.

One resident there said he had occasionally drunk coffee with the attacker and they had discussed religion. Alireza Khodadadi told The Associated Press that the man, whom he would identify only as Mohammed, had told him that the extremist ISIS group was not representative of Islam.

"He always said that, no, I'm not with them, I don't like them and such stuff. But I think he had some issues because, you know, he told lies so often without any reason, and I understand that he wants to be in the centre of (attention), you know, he needed (attention)," Khodadadi said.

Police officers leave a former hotel where a 27-year-old Syrian man lived. (Matthias Schrader/Associated Press)

A team of 30 investigators was interviewing the man's acquaintances and examining evidence collected from his home.

Authorities said they were alerted to the explosion in Ansbach's city's centre shortly after 10 p.m.

Police said the Syrian blew himself up in the outside seating area of a wine bar near the open-air concert.

They said in a statement that security staff noticed the man with the backpack near the entrance of the concert site around 9:45 p.m.

Police spokeswoman Elke Schoenwald said he was refused entry to the concert because he didn't have a ticket. He then sat down on a chair outside the nearby restaurant. According to witness accounts he briefly leaned forward at 10:10 p.m. and then triggered the explosion.

(Google/CBC)

Concert shut down

Ansbach is a serene city of about 40,000 west of Nuremberg. The attack came near the end of the closing night of a popular open air festival being attended by about 2,000 people.

The concert was shut down as a precaution after the explosion.

Bavarian public broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk reported that 200 police officers and 350 rescue personnel were brought in.

The explosion came as Germany, and the southern state of Bavaria in particular, have been on edge.

Earlier Sunday, a Syrian man killed a woman with a machete and wounded two others outside a bus station in the southwestern city of Reutlingen before being arrested. Police said there were no indications pointing to terrorism and the attacker and the woman worked together in the same restaurant. Polish authorities said she was a Polish citizen.

Two days earlier, a man went on a deadly rampage at a Munich mall, killing nine people and leaving dozens wounded.

And an axe attack on a train near Wuerzburg last Monday wounded five. A 17-year-old Afghan asylum-seeker was shot and killed by police as he fled the scene. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Flowers and candles have been placed in front of the main entrance of the Olympia-Einkaufszentrum (Olympia Shopping Mall) in Munich after Friday's rampage left numerous people dead and injured. (Peter Kneffel/dpa/Associated Press)

These attacks came shortly after a Tunisian man driving a truck killed 84 people when he plowed through a festive crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, along the famed French Riviera.

Tributes in Munich

In Munich on Sunday evening, 1,500 people gathered at the scene of the shooting there, lighting candles and placing flowers in tribute to the victims of an 18-year-old German-Iranian. Police said that he had planned the attack for a year.

Munich authorities said Monday at a news conference that a 16-year-old Afghan friend of the Munich attacker may have known of the attack in advance.

Police said Monday the teenager was arrested late Sunday and investigators were able to retrieve a deleted chat between him and the attacker on the messaging app WhatsApp.

Police say that from the chat it appears that the 16-year-old met with the attacker immediately before the attack at the scene of the rampage — a mall in Munich — before the attack. He also knew the attacker had a pistol.

Investigators say the two teenagers met last year as in-patients at a psychiatric ward. Both were being treated for online game addiction, among other things.

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