Two police officers suffered serious injuries in a blast at a shop on the Grand Boulevard in central Budapest late on Saturday. A HUF 10 million reward has been offered for information leading to the capture of a suspect in his 20s. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the bombing had no link to the migrant crisis.
The blast was reported at a ground-level shop on the corner of Király utca and Teréz körút at 10.36pm on Saturday. The two police – a 23-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man – were hospitalised with life-threatening and serious injuries, and have since been stabilised.
Attila Ladocsi, an explosives expert, told public news channel M1 that the blast was “definitely not a gas explosion”. He said it is “absolutely certain” that an explosive device was detonated, which was later confirmed by the national police chief.
According to the police report, a home-made shrapnel bomb was used. Police are seeking a suspect aged 20-25 and 170 centimetres tall, who was wearing a light-coloured fishing cap, a dark canvas jacket, blue jeans and white trainers.
An 18-minute video posted by the police shows images of the suspected bomber, the explosion and the two injured police at the busy downtown junction. Towards the end of the recording, a man can be seen reaching into a package he is carrying and then entering a doorway before leaving in the direction of the police who are prostrate on the ground after the explosion.
Parliament’s national security committee convened on Monday, and for the first time an official confirmed that it was not a terrorist attack. “According to information available so far it can almost certainly be ruled out that the shrapnel bomb attack in central Budapest on the weekend was ideologically motivated, with no evidence pointing to a jihadist motive,” Zsolt Molnár, the head of the committee, said.
Molnár said evidence gathered so far points to an act targeting the two police or Hungary’s police force as a whole, adding, however, that there is still little to know for certain about the exact motive.
Orbán told public television on Tuesday that there was no sign suggesting any link between the explosion and the migrant crisis. “We may not be able to exclude this but there is no sign of that now, which is reassuring,” he said.
Whatever the motives, it was a heinous act, Orbán said. The attack seemed to have been targeted at the police, and he had instructed Interior Minister Sándor Pintér to hunt down the perpetrator at all cost and extract out of him what he did and why.
Appeal for witnesses
The Central Investigative Prosecutor’s Office (CIPO) is requesting anyone appearing on the video of the bombing to come forward. Witnesses can call the 24-hour free hotline of police (+36-80-620-107) or the free Eyewitness Hotline (+36-80-555-111). The CIPO especially wants to be contacted by the lady seen walking past the officers just seconds before the blast. The CIPO is also asking that CCTV footage recorded anywhere in Budapest on September 24 and 25 not be deleted.