A German politician has been seriously wounded in a knife attack police suspect was linked to her work dealing with the ongoing refugee crisis.
An official for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CPD) told Al Jazeera that Henriette Reker was attacked in Cologne while campaigning for the city’s mayoral election due to be held on Sunday.
Reker, an independent who is backed by the CPD and two other parties, was handing out roses to passers-by when she was set upon by a man in his mid-forties carrying two knives, the official said.
“He asked if he could have a rose, she said ‘yes’, and then the person attacked her with two knives and she was hurt,” the CPD official said, adding that Sunday’s vote was expected to continue as scheduled.
Reker’s campaign team posted a statement on Twitter saying the candidate’s condition was “serious but stable”, and thanked paramedics for preventing worse.
Germany’s Bild newspaper quoted a regional police official who said they arrested a man who had admitted to attacking Reker out of “xenophobic” and “political” motives.
Reker is the current deputy-mayor of Cologne and had been responsible for accommodating refugees arriving in the city, the newspaper said.
Germany is facing an increase in far-right attacks as tens of thousands of refugees enter the country seeking escape from war and poverty.
They get to Germany after making arduous and often deadly journeys across the Mediterranean, and then overland through eastern European countries that seek to block their movement.
Merkel has allowed their entry into the country but faces increasing pressure from even her closest allies to end the influx. Al Jazeera