Incident Summary:

10/15/2018: An assailant set fire to a McDonald's restaurant in the main railway station in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The assailant then went into an adjacent pharmacy, took a civilian hostage, and covered them in petrol. Police were able to free the hostage on site. Four people, including the assailant, were injured during the attack. An unaffiliated individual claimed responsibility for the incident and "demanded to be allowed to leave Germany for Islamic State in Syria."




Western Europe

region/u.s. state:

North Rhine-Westphalia


Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Armed Assault
Type of Attack (more) Hostage Taking (Barricade Incident)
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Business
Name of Entity McDonald's
Specific Description Restaurant
Nationality of Target Germany
Target Type: Private Citizens & Property
Name of Entity Not Applicable
Specific Description Civilian
Nationality of Target Germany
Additional Information
Hostages Yes
Number of Hostages 1
US Hostages 0
Outcome Successful Rescue
Ransom No
Property Damage Yes
Extent of Property Damage Minor (likely < $1 million)
Value of Property Damage Unknown
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Incendiary Gasoline or Alcohol
Fake Weapons
Weapon Details
Petrol, a fake pistol, and two camping gas canisters taped together and containing metal balls were used in the attack.
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Doubt Terrorism Proper (more) Yes
Alternate Designation (more) Lack of Intentionality
Additional Information There is doubt that this incident meets terrorism-related criteria. Sources suspected that the assailant suffered from mental health issues.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Jihadi-inspired extremists Yes (Confirmed: Unknown; Mode: Personal claim)
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 1
Number of Captured Perpetrators 1
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 0 Fatalities / 4 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 0
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 4
Number of U.S. Injured 0
Number of Perpetrators Injured 1
"German prosecutors probing terrorist motive in Cologne station attack," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, October 17, 2018.
"Cologne hostage-taker had mental problems: police," Gulf News, October 16, 2018.
"German police not ruling out ‘terror’ motive in hostage drama,", October 17, 2018.