Germany: New knife attack in Mannheim wounds local AfD politician

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A local politician has been attacked in the German city of Mannheim, five days after the fatal stabbing of a police officer in its market square.

The man, described as a local election candidate for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, was left with cuts in the attack, German press agency DPA reported.

Police confirmed the incident took place on Tuesday evening, close to scene of Friday’s deadly attack that targeted organisers of a rally against radical Islam and which claimed the life of a 29-year-old officer.

They said the politician was taken to hospital for treatment, but had not suffered life-threatening injuries.

The local AfD association said its candidate had chased after a man tearing down election posters, who then cut him with a knife.

Senior AfD politicians identified the victim of Tuesday’s attack as Heinrich Koch, 62, a candidate standing in this weekend’s municipal election in Mannheim.

Police in the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg said they arrested a 25-year-old suspect, who was then taken to a psychiatric hospital after showing clear signs of mental illness.

They stressed there was no concrete evidence that he had been aware that the victim was an AfD politician.

The latest incident in Mannheim came after an Afghan asylum seeker was detained on suspicion of repeatedly stabbing a police officer, who later died in hospital. Five other people were wounded in the attack, who had been preparing for a rally by a group opposed to radical Islam.

The killing sparked outrage in Germany, prompting the government to say it may allow deportations to Afghanistan.

The 25-year-old suspect in Friday’s attack is said to have come to Germany as a refugee in 2013 and has since had two children. Deportations to Afghanistan were halted when the Taliban returned to power three years ago.

The violence comes as Germans prepare to vote on Sunday in European Parliament elections, as well as municipal elections in seven states including Baden-Württemberg.

All 27 EU countries are taking part in the European Parliament vote. The AfD is challenging the centre-left Social Democrats of Chancellor Olaf Scholz for second place, although the far-right party’s top candidates have been hit by a succession of scandals.

“We are shocked and dismayed,” Markus Frohnmaier, a top AfD official in Baden-Württemberg told German media in response to the latest incident.

Attacks have also taken place in other areas of Germany ahead of Sunday’s European elections, prompting the chancellor to warn last month of a threat to democracy.

A candidate from Mr Scholz’s party, Matthias Ecke, was seriously injured by a group of people as he put up posters in the eastern city of Dresden, and a female Greens politician there was also attacked.

Berlin senator Franziska Giffey, who is a well-known former minister in Mr Scholz’s party, was struck on the head and neck last month by a man as she visited a local library in the capital.

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