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The Aftermath of Sunday's Suicide Bombing in the German Town of Ansbach

"If I didn't know what happened yesterday, I wouldn't be able to guess just from the behavior of the people around me."

by Vincent Bittner
Jul 25 2016, 5:30pm


Flowers at the scene of the crime

This article originally appeared on VICE Germany.

The apartment of 21-year-old Antonia Kourtides in Ansbach is located just a few feet from the spot where a suicide bomber injured 15 people on Sunday night, when he detonated explosives in his backpack just outside a music festival. Antonia was reading in her study that night, when she was startled by a loud bang. "There were no screams coming from that direction, though, so I assumed it was just local teenagers playing with fireworks. But when I saw the bustle of firemen and policemen outside my window, I realized that it had to be something more serious," she says. "Of course, one of the first things that pop in your head these days in such cases is terrorism."

The glass of this display cabinet was broken during the attack on Sunday night.

The explosion took place at about 10 PM, very close to the entrance of Ansbach Open 2016, which this past weekend attracted more than 2,000 visitors from across Germany. Today, a video was discovered on the suicide bomber's phone that shows the 27-year-old Syrian pledging allegiance to the Islamic State and promising to take revenge on Germany "for standing in the way of Islam."

German interior minister Thomas de Maizière said at a press conference in Berlin that the attacker was supposed to return to Bulgaria—where he had first gotten refugee status—but that this deportation was stalled when he showed papers proving he had mental-health issues.

Apart from the area surrounding the crime scene, the mood in the town of 40,000 people feels relatively normal. The cobblestone streets of the old part of the town are just a bit busier than usual. Broadcast vehicles are parked everywhere, police officers are securing pieces of evidence and calmly asking journalists to keep away from restricted areas, and onlookers have gathered near the barricades. From the cafes on the nearby Martin Luther Square, locals sit and watch the bustle.

The streets surrounding the crime scene are open to the public again. Remains from the night of the attack are still on some tables.

"This morning, I went shopping. On my return, as I tried to enter my building, I was stopped by police," says Antonia. Yet traffic seemed to resume soon after that—even the cafe where Antonia and I met this past afternoon is full.

People around us are drinking coffee and laughing, just a few feet from the scene of last night's crime. The terrorist attack is the subject of most conversations I can overhear, but it's dealt with an attitude so relaxed, it's almost creepy.

"If I didn't know what happened yesterday, I wouldn't be able to guess just from the behavior of the people around me," says Antonia, as she sips her coffee. "Personally, I'm fine. I'm not panicking. I just hope the events of the last few days don't further the hatred some Germans have for refugees."