Essen, Germany – Police in the western German city of Essen were Sunday searching for a masked man after an explosion at a Sikh temple left three people injured.
About 200 guests were at the temple for a wedding on Saturday when an explosive device went off in the prayer room. The suspect, a masked man about 1.8-metres tall, fled the scene and is wanted by police.
A police spokesman said it was fortunate that only a few people were in the room at the time of the blast, and investigators said there was no evidence of terrorism. Yet, the motive for the attack remained unclear.
More than 20 officers were part of the investigation, the spokesman said Sunday.
Three men in a black SUV were detained shortly after the blast, police said, as they had been seen in the vicinity of the temple. They were subsequently released.
The building was badly damaged and windows were shattered.
Two people suffered minor injuries, while the 60-year-old priest who married the couple was in hospital.
The Sikh temple and the home of a community leader were placed under police protection.
There are 200 members of the Sikh community in Essen, which is the largest in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. An estimated 15,000 Sikhs live in Germany.
Essen Mayor Thomas Kufen, who met with Indian Consul General Raveesh Kumar on Sunday morning, said: “Our free society guarantees freedom of religion. Any form of violence is totally unacceptable.”
The monotheistic Sikh religion was founded in India in the 15th century as a reaction to the rigid strictures of Hinduism.
Religious Sikhs live according to rules that forbid nicotine, alcohol, infidelity and pre-marital sex. Traditionally, Sikh men never cut their hair but wear it entwined in a turban as an indication of spirituality. Some carry a small sword, representing courage and self-sacrifice and wear a metal arm band, representing unity with God.