- Mayoral candidate for German city Cologne, Henriette Reker, was stabbed
- Police said a 44-year-old man sprang on her as she campaigned in the city
- An aide was seriously injured, while three others received minor injuries
- Ms Reker has been instrumental in organising accommodation for refugees
A German mayoral candidate has been stabbed in the neck, in an attack that is believed to have been because of her support for refugees.
Henriette Reker, who is running for mayor of the city of Cologne as an independent, and one of her aides were left severely injured in the savage assault.
A 44-year-old man sprang on the pair while they were campaigning in the western German city, police said.
Three other people were also injured, although not seriously.
Norbert Wagner, head of the police criminal investigation unit in Cologne, said the attack on Reker was ‘targeted and deliberate’.
‘In his plea, he said that he committed this act out of xenophobic motivation,’ Wagner continued.
‘From our initial investigations, we have ascertained that he probably acted alone. So far, we have no knowledge of other people taking part in this sad act.’
Cologne Police Chief Wolfgang Albers said Ms Reker has been involved in the supporting and helping to house refugees in the city.
‘At the moment she is stable, but not out of the woods yet,’ he added.
Germany, a top destination for migrants, expects to receive up to a million new arrivals this year. But many Germans feel that the country cannot cope with the record numbers of refugees.
Police said the attack stabbed Ms Reker and her aide at around 9am (7am GMT) at an information stand for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, the Christian Democrats (CDU).
The other three people were injured immediately afterwards.
Eyewitnesses said that the attacker headed straight for Ms Reker.
‘She had arrived here just a few minutes before,’ said Bernd Petelkau, a local CDU official. ‘She was talking to two other party members when it happened.’
Ms Reker is running as an independent but is supported by the CDU, the Free Democrats and the Greens.
Cologne is due to hold elections for mayor on Sunday.