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Deadly Blast In Germany Renews Fears Over Refugees


Germany has been by far the most welcoming European nation when it comes to accepting asylum seekers - more than one and a half million in the past year and a half, although all of them will not be allowed to stay. And now it is being attacked by a very tiny number of those. There was an attack in Germany over the weekend when a young asylum seeker blew himself up and injured 15 others.

The 27-year-old bomber, originally from Syria, was under a deportation order. He had earlier been denied entry to a music festival in the town of Ansbach in Bavaria, southern Germany. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson joins us from Berlin. And, Soraya, the German interior minister just held a press conference. What more details did he give us?

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: Well, he talked about this 27-year-old refugee or asylum seeker having applied for asylum in August of 2014. But because he had also registered in Bulgaria, and had been given a provisional asylum claim there - had been allowed to stay there - the Germans ended up rejecting his claim for Germany in December 2014. That deportation order that followed was put aside because of psychological issues this guy was having, including two suicide attempts. But on the 13 of July, the deportation order was reinstated, and he was facing imminent deportation to Bulgaria.

So what the interior minister has been saying is that this may or may not be ISIS, you know, that they - people should not jump to conclusions. But that's certainly not what the interior minister for Bavaria is saying. He quickly took to the airwaves to say that they found a video on his phone, on the phone of the bomber, which showed him saying that he was going to kill Germans as a revenge for deaths of Muslims.

He had, apparently, a large roll of bills, of euro bills, inside his backpack. And he also proclaimed his allegiance to the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. And so there is a feeling, at least in Bavaria, that this, in fact, was - that he at least was motivated by ISIS, if not directly linked to it.

MONTAGNE: OK. Bavaria is a very, as it happens, very right-wing or prone-to-be-right-wing area of Germany. What about the public, generally, and political leaders there and elsewhere?

NELSON: Well, certainly at the moment in Bavaria, the leaders there - this is the more conservative element of the leadership or the government here. You have Chancellor Merkel's Bavarian allies, the CSU. They've been against her refugee policy. They don't feel that people should have been allowed in the way they were last year and to a lesser extent this year. And they're saying now, the chickens have come home to roost. And so it's time to really crack down on these people. People who don't have any business being here should be shot out.

So there's already that reaction being formed and coming from Bavaria which has seen the bulk of these attacks. But having said that, in Berlin, clearly caution's being urged. They're telling people not to be super suspicious. You know, people are obviously and understandably very afraid right now in Germany. They worry this is going to happen again somewhere else. But the interior minister for Germany was trying to urge people to use reasoned thought and not impulsivity to sort of react to this situation.

MONTAGNE: Well, there is also, of course, that mass shooting on Friday in Munich. Very briefly, any new details?

NELSON: Yeah, there was another arrest, or an arrest, I should say, since the first guy, the actual shooter, killed himself. But it was a 16-year-old friend who he met through psychotherapy and apparently was at the mall, shortly before the shooting, with the shooter, apparently. And so now he's being charged with not reporting this or not telling police about it.

MONTAGNE: All right. Soraya, thanks very much.

NELSON: You're welcome, Renee.

MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson speaking to us from Berlin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.