Two children have been taken into custody over the killing of a 12-year-old girl in the town of Freudenberg, in western Germany, in a case that has shocked the country.
The girl, who was only identified by her first name Louise due to privacy reasons, went missing on Saturday after visiting a friend.
She was found stabbed to death on Sunday in a forest near a former railway station after a massive police search.
Prosecutor Mario Mannweiler told reporters that “we must assume that the crime was committed by two children from the (victim’s) circle of acquaintances”.
Citing the age of the suspects, officials refused to give any further details on their identity, gender, motive or whether they knew the victim from school.
Due to their youth, the two children are below the age of criminal responsibility which is 14 in Germany. They were therefore not arrested but taken into the custody of a youth welfare office.
Police said the victim had several stab wounds and died of blood loss.
The governor of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Freudenberg is located, said he was appalled by the killing.
“North Rhine-Westphalia is grieving,” Hendrik Wuest said. “It is incomprehensible and unbearable that children are capable of such horrible acts.”
He promised that the authorities would do everything in their power to shed light on the reasons and circumstances of the crime.