VIENNA (AP) — A knife-wielding man with psychological problems lunged at other passengers early Tuesday on a train in western Austria, seriously wounding two, in an attack prompted by the victims’ use of their cellphones, police said. The suspect was arrested.
The assault occurred near the village of Sulz, in westernmost Vorarlberg province. A police statement described the attacker as a 60-year old German national.
It said that a 19-year old man suffered wounds to the stomach and back. The other victim, a 17-year old male, had a throat injury. Both were hospitalized.
The assault came three days after a man attacked passengers on a crowded Swiss train with a knife and burning liquid Saturday, in an assault that left him and one of his victims dead. But police in Austria ruled out a copycat attack Tuesday or one prompted by religious or political motives.
“Decisive for the act was that he felt threatened by the cellphones of the passengers sitting across from him, at which point he attacked them,” said the statement.
It said the man whom German police described as someone with “psychological problems … voiced anti-Fascist utterances,” as police struggled to detain him.
The Austrian police statement said the 19-year old was the first victim in Tuesday’s incident, with the perpetrator lunging at him from a facing seat. He then attacked the 17-year old as the train slowed to a halt at Sulz, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) east of the Swiss border
The attacker was apprehended at the stop by two police officers who used pepper spray to subdue him, police said. A 22-year old passenger who helped police suffered minor cut wounds to a hand.
Such attacks reflect the difficulties of policing Europe’s labyrinthine transport system, particularly against individuals with unsophisticated weapons.
In Switzerland, St. Gallen canton (state) police said Tuesday said that three victims of Saturday’s attack remained hospitalized, including a 17-year-old girl still in life-threatening condition.
Last month in neighboring Germany, a 17-year-old refugee from Afghanistan with an ax and a knife wounded four tourists on a train, and stabbed a woman as he fled. Police fatally shot the attacker. All his victims survived.
In May at a train station in the German state of Bavaria, a 27-year-old German man who had been in psychiatric care stabbed commuters, killing one and wounding three others before being apprehended by police.
Last year, a heavily armed gunman opened fire on a high-speed Amsterdam to Paris train but was overpowered by two young American servicemen and their companion.
Associated Press writer David Rising contributed to this report from Berlin.