Cologne stabbing victim elected mayor

Pro-refugee politician Henriette Reker has been elected mayor of Cologne, a day after being stabbed in the neck while on the campaign trail in an attack that shocked Germany.

Berlin: Pro-refugee politician Henriette Reker has been elected mayor of Cologne, a day after being stabbed in the neck while on the campaign trail in an attack that shocked Germany.

 Reker, who is recovering in hospital after being seriously injured in what police labelled a "racist, political" attack, yesterday won 52.6 percent of votes cast, final results showed, putting her on track to becoming the city's first female mayor.

 "Victory! We are delighted for Henriette Reker," her campaign team said in a tweet, calling her win "a new start for Cologne".

 Trailing a long way back in second place was Jochen Ott of the centre-left Social Democrats who secured 32 percent of the votes.

 Standing as an independent, though close to the ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel, Reker has become Germany's most prominent victim of a growing backlash against a record influx of refugees this year.

 The 58-year-old trained lawyer was largely unknown at the national level before Saturday's attack, which was widely condemned with Merkel herself expressing her "shock" at the incident.

 For the past five years, Reker has been responsible for running refugee services in Cologne, Germany's fourth-largest city with 980,000 inhabitants including a sizeable Muslim minority.

 In charge of accommodating asylum-seekers from Syria and other war zones, she has housed them in sports halls, former commercial spaces and other sites, and has called for their social integration.

 The attack against her came as Germany is struggling to cope with a record inflow of asylum seekers after Merkel said the country would open its doors to Syrian refugees.

 Merkel's welcoming stance has provoked a backlash among her conservative allies and sparked protests among the far-right.

 Reker's attacker, a 44-year-old unemployed man known to be close to the extreme right in the 1990s, was arrested at the scene of the crime.

 He had a racist motivation for the stabbing, Cologne police said.

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