German authorities announced that two teenagers accused of bombing a Sikh temple in the city of Essen on April 16 had links to the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.
The two 16-year-olds, who were arrested on April 21, have admitted to carrying out the attack, although they deny that it was religiously motivated, according to India TV News. However, North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Ralf Jager said in a report to the home affairs committee of the state parliament that the teenagers were radical Islamicists and supporters of ISIS.
“[One of the suspects] had also expressed his sympathy for IS and Al Qaeda,” the report said, according to India TV News. “His accomplice has been participating in a special [program] of the interior ministry for Salafists who have a tendency to get involved in violence and are in danger of being drawn to IS and other terror organisations.”
The explosion, which occurred when the suspects detonated explosives hidden inside a fire extinguisher, injured three members of a wedding party who had been in the temple for a ceremony earlier. Injuries were minimal because most people had already left the temple. One of the victims was the temple’s priest, a 60-year-old man who suffered serious but not life-threatening wounds and remains in the hospital.
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Jager said that the two suspects were already being monitored by police for possible ties to terrorist groups before the explosions occurred. One of them had threatened a Jewish fellow student at his secondary school and attempted to obtain firearms, the report said.
“I find it shocking that people who grew up among us are in a position and willing to build bombs and risk the lives of others,” Jager said, according to The Guardian.
The two suspects were identified when investigators found CCTV footage of two people who had matching backpacks to those found at the blast. They are now being held in preventive custody.