‘Lone wolf’ attacks rising, hard to track, warns Europol

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Europe is at major risk of so-called “lone wolf” terror attacks, its policing agency said Wednesday, with the latest incidents showing “how difficult it is to detect and disrupt suspects”.

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Recent incidents including Monday’s attack on a German train and last week’s carnage in Nice which left 84 people dead “remain a favoured tactic by the Islamic State group and al Qaeda,” Europol said in a statement.

“Both groups have repeatedly called on Muslims living in western countries to perpetrate lone actor attacks in their countries of residence,” it said.

In the latest incident, the Islamic State group Tuesday released a video purportedly featuring a 17-year-old migrant who went on an axe rampage on a train at Wuerzburg in southern Germany, injuring five people, two critically.

“Although IS has claimed responsibility for the latest attacks, none… seem to have been planned, logistically supported or executed directly by IS,” Europol said,

Despite the attackers’ pledges of allegiance to the IS group, “their actual involvement… cannot be established,” Europol said.

The Hague-based policing organisation also released its 2015 “EU Terrorism and Trend Report” saying 151 people died and more than 350 others were injured in terror attacks last year in the 28-member bloc.

The 55-page report only looked at 2015 and did not take into account the Nice attack or the attacks on the Brussels airport and metro stations in March in which 32 people died.

“In 2015 the EU experienced a massive number of casualties caused by terrorist attacks,” Europol chief Rob Wainwright said.

“The carefully planned attacks demonstrate the elevated threat to the EU from a fanatical minority… based in the Middle East, combined with a network of people born and raised in the EU,” he said.