A youth described as an Afghan refugee attacked passengers with an ax late Monday aboard a German commuter train, injuring at least four people before being shot and killed by police, authorities said.
Three of the victims sustained serious injuries before the assailant fled from the train and was confronted by police officers in the southern German province of Bavaria. The youth shouted "Allahu Akhbar"--Arabic for 'God is great" - before he was shot, two German security officials said.
Bavarian Interior Ministry officials described the attacker as a 17-year-old Afghan national who had arrived in Germany as an unaccompanied refugee. The officials said it was not yet clear whether the incident was an act of terrorism.
The assault occurred amid heightened fears in Germany about possible terrorist attacks, coming four days after 84 people were killed in an apparent jihadist-inspired attack in Nice, in the French Riviera.
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Bavarian officials and local news accounts said the incident occurred after 9 p.m. local time on Monday on a commuter line that runs from Treuchtlingen to Wuerzburg in Bavaria province. The youth hacked and slashed at some of the train's 20 passengers, injuring at least four of them.
"It cannot be ruled out that the lives of some of those injured are in danger," Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told public television broadcaster ARD.
After the passengers called for help, the train stopped at the town of Heidingsfeld, near Wuerzburg, where police backed by helicopters were waiting. Two German security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in discussing details of the still-unfolding events, said the assailant charged the officers yelling "Allahu Akhbar" and was cut down by gunfire. Some local officials cautioned that the teen's use of the phrase - common in Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks - was not confirmed.
Hermann said in a Bavarian broadcast interview that the assailant was a 17-year-old Afghan refugee who was living in a Wuerzburg suburb. He said the teen appeared to have acted alone, adding that it was too early to say if it was an act of terrorism.
The attack comes 11 months after a similar episode in which an Islamist extremist shot and stabbed passengers on a French Thalys train heading from Amsterdam to Paris. Four people were injured, including the assailant, a 25-year-old Moroccan national, who was subdued by a group of passengers that included three Americans.