A 14-year-old girl was stabbed in Illerkirchberg near Ulm, and a 13-year-old was seriously injured. The suspect is an asylum seeker from Eritrea. Not long ago another crime shook the place.

They were on their way to school. But the two 13 and 14-year-old girls from Illerkirchberg near Ulm never arrived. They were attacked with a knife around 7:30 a.m. Monday morning. On the open road.

Both girls were seriously injured. The 14-year-old had to be revived at the scene, but died a little later in a clinic. An eyewitness told the “SWR” that he had seen a young person “lying bleeding on the floor, with a huge stab wound in the stomach”.

And further: “A second girl had injuries below the chest, a stab wound. She was completely broken up.” It is a crime that shocks people far beyond Illerkirchberg.

There is already a suspect. It is a 27-year-old man from Eritrea. The police said on Monday that he had come from an asylum center and returned there after the crime.

The officers picked up the 27-year-old and two other men. “They were arrested but are now free. The suspicion against them has not been substantiated,” says Michael Bischofberger from the Ulm public prosecutor’s office in an interview with FOCUS online.

The Eritrean, on the other hand, is still considered a suspect. The officers found a knife on him, possibly the murder weapon. According to Bischofberger, he has lived in Germany since 2016. So far, the police have not noticed the asylum seeker – “apart from one fare dodger”.

According to the public prosecutor, he has a residence permit until 2023. How long the Eritrean has been living in Illerkirchberg cannot be said exactly. It is also unclear whether the 27-year-old and the two girls knew each other.

For some Illerkirchbergers, what happened on Monday feels like déjà vu. Like a nightmare repeating itself, only in a worse version than last time.

Because it wasn’t long ago that the 4,700-inhabitant community was shaken by a serious act of violence. In 2019, several men from Afghanistan and Iraq raped a 14-year-old girl. On Halloween night, they persuaded the girl to come with them to a refugee camp.

Four men between the ages of 17 and 26 were later sentenced to several years in prison by the Ulm Regional Court in March 2021. Three for rape, one for assisting rape. He is said to have drugged the girl.

All of this happened in another refugee accommodation. “It was about a farm that is outside of Illerkirchberg, in the district of Beutelreusch. The accommodation that is now being discussed is in Oberkirchberg,” says senior public prosecutor Bischofberger.

Nevertheless, the knife attack is reminiscent of the incident from back then. FOCUS online wanted to know how many refugees are currently being accommodated in Illerkirchberg and whether there have been police operations over the past few months because of them or in the accommodation.

The Alb-Donau district, to which Illerkirchberg belongs, refers to the municipality that is responsible for this. But several inquiries to the community remain unanswered, and no one could be reached by phone either.

However, the “SWR” reported in September that the space for refugees is becoming scarce in more and more districts in the south-west.

It is clear that the knife attack in Illerkirchberg opens the door to hatred of refugees. The police and prosecutors are aware of the explosiveness and therefore published an appeal to the public on Monday.

One is aware “that events of this kind stir up fears and emotions”. Both authorities asked “not to have any general suspicion against strangers, those seeking protection or asylum seekers in general or to encourage or support such suspicions”.

But how is the mood in the region after another serious act of violence was allegedly committed by a refugee?

Again and again there should have been problems with the 27-year-old suspect, says Sibel Dardere to FOCUS online, while expressing her grief at the scene. Most of it, however, she only knows from hearsay. The 45-year-old fears for her 12-year-old daughter.

“I don’t want to let her go out alone anymore. But I don’t want to lock them up or guard them all the time,” she says. Her voice gets louder, tears run down her cheeks. Her daughter slept in her bed last night after she found out about the 14-year-old’s death.

Hatice Sirin, 59, lives just 400 meters from the crime scene. She is also afraid, especially for her grandchildren. “They go to the kindergarten, which is right next door,” she says.

“The street is not lit, the light only comes on again on the main street.” Her friend Nezahat Sentürk, who knows the victim’s family, also speaks to the asylum seekers in town.

“They were always left alone,” she says. “Even though my son is 21 years old, I’m still scared. This was a quiet place, sure. But not anymore. It’s gotten worse. And nobody does anything.”

Andreas Wündisch can understand the restlessness, the fear, the anger in the village. He is a Protestant pastor and cooperates with the “Refugee Working Group Illerkirchberg”. The group tries to integrate refugees into the community, takes them to authorities and doctors or helps them look for a job.

Wündisch remembers the gang rape three years ago. “There were no demonstrations in 2019, but the topic of asylum seekers was discussed more emotionally,” he says. “It is understandable that there is fear after an incident like this.”

He keeps talking about a catastrophe, a “nightmare”. “It’s terrible what happened to the girls,” he says. The pastor fears that the case will have far-reaching consequences.

“Actually, there is fantastic integration work here, many refugees are now employed. What has happened now is tantamount to a catastrophe for those who are integrating and those who want to integrate,” says Wündisch.

And of course the act means unimaginable suffering for the victims, but also for their families and friends.

According to the pastor, cars with foreign license plates were seen in Illerkirchberg on Monday. Neo-Nazis, rumor has it, who want to exploit the knife attack for their own purposes. But those are just rumours.

Nevertheless, the mood is heated. “I’ve already received emails demanding the death penalty for the asylum seeker,” says Wündisch. He also says that many refugees in Illerkirchberg have problems to contend with.

Sometimes the accommodation situation is difficult, sometimes there are setbacks in language learning. “But also if it can weigh on you. That is never a justification for action as we have seen it now.”

The Eritrean, who is said to have stabbed the 13- and 14-year-old girls, is now in the hospital with serious injuries. According to the prosecutor, the man underwent surgery.

“At the moment there are no indications of external influence. He may have self-inflicted the injuries,” said prosecutor Bischofberger. A forensic medical report should clarify this in more detail.

The 27-year-old was questioned about the knife attack, but did not provide any information on the matter. He relies on his right to remain silent. The public prosecutor’s office is now examining whether an arrest warrant will be issued for the man from Eritrea or whether he needs to be placed in a psychiatric clinic.

Collaboration: Jacqueline Arend