Hamburg mayor calls for swifter deportations following attack

Hamburg’s mayor called for swifter deportations from Germany in the wake of a fatal attack at a supermarket in the city by an asylum seeker who was set to be sent out of the country.

Authorities said the 26-year-old man was born in the United Arab Emirates but that his citizenship was unclear because he had no papers and therefore hadn’t been deported. He is accused of stabbing a 50-year-old German to death with a kitchen knife and wounding six others on Friday in the Bambek district of Hamburg. He was apprehended a short time later.

“What makes me especially angry is that the offender is apparently someone who claimed protection by us here in Germany and then directed his hate against us,” Mayor Olaf Scholz, a member of the Social Democrats, said in a Facebook post. “This shows all the more urgently that these legal and practical obstacles must be cleared away during the deportation process. These perpetrators are anxious to poison our society. They will fail.”

The incident is reminiscent of an attack in December at a Berlin Christmas market where the perpetrator, from Tunisia, killed 12 people. In that case, the man’s asylum application had been rejected but he hadn’t been deported because he lacked a passport. The Berlin incident was the last — and most deadly — in a series of assaults involving refugees that shook Germany last year in the wake of an influx of 1 million asylum seekers into the country in 2015.

A poll released Friday before the attack showed support for Merkel’s Christian Union-led bloc at 40 percent, the highest since the peak of the refugee crisis nearly two years ago and widening the lead over her Social Democrat challengers to 17 percentage points. Merkel is seeking a fourth term in the Sept. 24 federal election.

The Hamburg attacker was known to authorities for having connections in the country’s Islamist scene, Berlin-based newspaper Tagesspiegel reported, citing unidentified security sources. Police overnight searched a refugee center where the perpetrator is believed to have lived, Deutsche Presse Agentur reported.

An eyewitness to Friday’s assault told DPA that the man shouted as he held up the knife, “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is greatest.”