GENEVA:There is no indication that a stabbing and arson attack on a Swiss train was an act of terror, police said Sunday, as one of the six people injured died.
“The question of motive remains,” police from Switzerland’s eastern Saint Gallen region said in a statement, stressing: “To date there is no indication this was a terrorist or politically-motivated act.”
While no motives have been ruled out, the police statement should calm some of the speculation circulating since Saturday’s attack, which followed several months of violent, often deadly assaults in Europe, many of which were claimed by the Islamic State group.
“Terrorism is not our main theory,” police spokesman Bruno Metzger told AFP, adding that “other motives” figured far higher on the list, although he would not say what they were.
It was at around 2:20 pm (1220 GMT) on Saturday that a 27-year-old Swiss national used flammable liquid to start a fire on a moving train in eastern Switzerland before stabbing passengers.
The incident took place on the line between Buchs and Sennwald near Salez station, not far from Switzerland’s eastern border with Liechtenstein and Austria.
Pictures published by Swiss media on Sunday showed burned-out seats in front of a blackened window, the chairs covered with ash and the upholstery burnt to a crisp, while on the platform was a pool of blood.
Police said images of the attack had been caught on surveillance footage, allowing them to determine that the man had acted alone.
The footage, which was not immediately made public, showed the man, who was carrying a knife, pouring out flammable liquid and setting it alight, police said.
A 34-year-old woman who suffered the worst injuries, died on Sunday morning, police said.
She and the other victims, including two men aged 17 and 50, two women aged 17 and 43 and a six-year-old girl, suffered burns and stab wounds. One of the women and the child were in serious condition, police said.
Dozens of people were on the train at the time of the attack, they said. The attacker, who is not of immigrant origin and does not have a criminal record, is in critical condition after suffering serious burn wounds, Metzger said.
The woman who died had been doused with a lot of the flammable liquid, leading to speculation she might have been the target.
But Metzger said he could not confirm that, and another police spokesman Hanspeter Kruesi told AFP it did not appear the attack was directed at a single person. He said it was unclear if the attacker knew any of the victims.
Pulled out burning attacker
One of those injured was not a passenger, but a man on the platform at Salez station, where the train stopped when the smoke detector went off.
He was hurt after rushing in to pull the attacker — who was on fire — from the train, police said. “His intervention probably prevented worst,” Kruesi told the Blick daily.
Police did not provide any details on the identities or nationalities of the victims. They have not yet been able question the suspected attacker, who underwent an operation late on Saturday, the ATS news agency reported.
But they have searched his home, located in a canton neighbouring Saint Gallen.
Some 90 rescue workers took part in Saturday’s operation, including police, firefighters, ambulances and three rescue helicopters, police said.
Saint Gallen prosecutors, who have opened a criminal investigation into the attack, have sealed off the affected carriage, which is being scrutinised by forensics teams.