Knife-wielding man attacks people at store in Hamburg, Germany

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- Who was the attacker? Officers then arrested the man.

"#Barmbek: A criminal attacked several people in a supermarket & injured".

But Friday's attack is sure to draw parallels to the December 19 truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market carried out by Anis Amri that killed 12 and wounded dozens.

Police said the heroic actions enabled plain-clothes officers to arrest the attacker nearby.

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The authorities were alerted to the possible radicalization of the man after one of his friends contacted security officials, said Torsten Voss, director of Hamburg's state intelligence agency.

Authorities are trying to determine the man's nationality but said he had a birth certificate from the United Arab Emirates and was seeking papers from the Palestinian Authority mission in Berlin.

She said the predictable response from the German government and media in the aftermath of the attack will be to side with the Islamists against their own people.

The number of injured and the motive behind the attack were unknown. "First reports about a possible robbery can not be confirmed so far", he said. The Berlin incident was the last - and most deadly - in a series of assaults involving refugees that shook Germany a year ago in the wake of an influx of 1 million asylum seekers into the country in 2015.

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"It makes me especially angry that the perpetrator appears to be a person who claimed protection in Germany and then turned his hate against us", said mayor Olaf Scholz. "They said he started talking a lot about the Quran, stopped drinking alcohol and questioning many things".

On July 24, 2016, a 27-year-old failed Syrian asylum seeker blows himself up near an open-air music festival in the southern city of Ansbach, wounding 15 others.

Coming two months before Germany heads to the polls, the latest assault is expected to reopen the bitter debate over Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision in 2015 to open the borders, letting in more than a million asylum seekers.

A female witness standing in line at the supermarket till also told NTV rolling news channel that "as he was running out... he held up his arms and shouted "Allahu Akhbar".

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Grote added that the man had not been deported - even though his asylum application had been rejected - because he lacked the necessary identification papers.

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