The dreaded Islamic State terror group may be linked to the explosion at a gurudwara in Germany’s western city of Essen, media reports said on Thursday quoting officials investigating the attack.
Suspicions of an ISIS involvement in the Saturday blast at the Nanaksar Satsang Sabha Gurdwara, which occurred at the end of a marriage ceremony, have hardened following the arrest of two men in the nearby town of Gensenkirchen last night.
Police in Essen confirmed the arrest of the two men “after an intensive search”.
One of the two men identified by police as Yusuf T, an ISIS sympathiser, is now treated by investigators as the main suspect in the attack, ARD TV network reported.
He is known to the authorities as an activist in the Islamist scene in the Ruhr region of North Rhine Westphalia and has been actively involved in a campaign to distribute free copies of the Quran in the German-speaking region organised by a radical Salafist sect of Islam.
Yusuf also has links to “Lohberger-Brigade”, an alliance of radical Islamists in the town of Dinslaken, the report said.
Most of German Islamists who have travelled to Syria to join ISIS militants had close links to LIES, the organisation behind the Quran distribution campaign, according to the report.
Yusuf had used his Facebook profile to carry out propaganda for the ISIS, it said.
Police investigation into the attack initially focused on a man dressed in black and wearing a mask, who was seen running away from the gurudwara soon after the explosion.
Eyewitnesses who saw him without his mask described him as a dark-skinned man, possibility from the Mediterranean or North African region.
Media reports said earlier that his mask thrown into a bush was recovered by police and it was being subjected to DNA analysis.
Police yesterday released photos and CCTV footage of two men suspected of planting a backpack containing a bomb in the entrance hall of the gurudwara.
One of them carried a backpack with the logo “Russel Athletic”. Investigators found the remains of a similar back pack in the debris of the explosion, according to police.
Earlier, authorities announced a reward of 5,000 euros for information leading to their arrests.
India had expressed “distress” at what has been deemed as a deliberate act from the beginning. Top Indian officials have already taken it up at the highest level as Essen authoritie assured India that all steps will be taken to ensure security for all minorities including the Sikhs.
An elderly Sikh priest, who suffered serious injuries in the blast, is currently recovering in a hospital in Essen. Two other persons were treated for minor injuries by emergency medical service teams at the scene of the explosion.
Soon after the attack, three men were briefly arrested over suspicion that they were in the black SUV, which had previously been seen in the vicinity of the crime scene.
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