0310 GMT January 17, 2021
German police described the Saturday attack on the city’s mayoral hopeful Henriette Reker as an incident with a "racist, political" motive, as the country continues to struggle with the persisting refugee crisis in the European Union.
The development, according to local press reports, placed further pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel in managing the still developing issue of asylum seekers awaiting admittance into the country.
Merkel (pictured below), meanwhile, expressed "shock" over the stabbing attack, which came as the German leader is set to pay and official visit to Turkey on Sunday to discuss the refugee crisis with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has ridiculed European efforts to manage the crisis so far.
Over 630,000 people fleeing foreign-backed wars, terrorism, and unrest in the Middle East and North Africa have landed on European shores this year after making dangerous sea journeys from Turkey to Greece and across the Mediterranean to Italy.
Most of the refugees are pushing to get to Germany as one of EU’s most vibrant economies with its doors open to asylum seekers.
This is while Merkel's refugee policy has reportedly caused increasing tensions in Germany, prompting a backlash from her conservative allies and generating a growing number of protests by far-right groups.
Reker, who is described as an independent politician close to Merkel's ruling Christian Democrats (CDU), was stabbed in the neck at a party information stand in Cologne.
Four others were also wounded during the attack, with regional police chief Wolfgang Albers referring to it as a "political act."
According to Cologne’s police official, Norbert Wagner, the assailant, who was detained at the crime scene, told local police authorities he had "a racist motivation for committing this act."