BERLIN (AFP) – A German tabloid that paid tribute to those killed at Charlie Hebdo by reprinting cartoons from the French satirical paper mocking the Prophet Mohammed was firebombed Sunday, police said.
With security services on high alert after an extremist killing spree in Paris, police in the northern German port city of Hamburg said no one was at the headquarters of the regional daily Hamburger Morgenpost at the time of the attack, which caused only slight damage.
Hamburg police said it was “too soon” to tell whether there was a connection between the Charlie Hebdo tribute and the firebombing, which would be the first attack against the cartoons since Wednesday’s massacre of 12 people at the French weekly.
“Rocks and then a burning object were thrown through the window,” a police spokesman told AFP.
“Two rooms on lower floors were damaged but the fire was put out quickly.”
The Hamburger Morgenpost, known locally as the MOPO, had splashed the Charlie Hebdo cartoons on its front page after the massacre at the Paris publication with the headline “This much freedom must be possible!”.
Police said the attack had occurred at about 0120 GMT and that two men, aged 35 and 39, seen acting suspiciously near the scene were detained and are being questioned.
The newspaper, which has a circulation of around 91,000, offered regular updates on the firebombing on its website.
“Thick smoke is still hanging in the air, the police are looking for clues,” it said in its initial story, under the headline “Arson attack on the MOPO – Due to the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ cartoons?”.
Later Sunday it had removed any reference to Charlie Hebdo but quoted the regional representative body for the media as calling the attack a “cowardly and insidious act of terror against press freedom”.
Editor-in-chief Frank Niggemeier said in a statement said his team was “shocked that something like this could happen in a cosmopolitan and liberal city like Hamburg”.
He declined to speculate about a motive and said the Monday edition would go to press as planned.
Hamburg is Germany’s second city, with a population of around 2.4 million.