A leading candidate in a German mayoral election has been stabbed in what police say was a "racist political" attack linked to the large numbers of migrants entering the country.
Henriette Reker, an independent candidate for mayor of Cologne, suffered serious neck wounds in the attack, which happened the day before the elections.
Ms Reker, who is supported by Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party and her aide were seriously injured, while three others suffered minor injuries.
Cologne police say the attacker had a racist motivation. The man reportedly claimed to be angry over the country's refugee policies.
It comes as Germany struggles to cope with a huge influx of asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa.
The attacker, a 44-year-old German national, told police he stabbed Ms Reker "because of anti-foreigner motives", senior police investigator Norbert Wagner said.
The suspect appeared to have acted alone and had no previous police record, Mr Wagner added. He will undergo a psychiatric examination.
Germany's interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, called the attack "appalling and cowardly".
City officials said the election would go ahead as planned. Ms Reker has been the head of Cologne's social affairs and integration department since 2010.
Ms Merkel has come under fire from some in Germany over the large numbers of refugees and migrants being allowed into the country.
Germany has said it expects 800,000 people to seek asylum there this year, but a leaked report suggested the number could be as high as 1.5 million.