Three Killed, 20 Injured After Van Drives Into Crowd in Germany

Police say suspect took his own life, checking reports that other perpetrators fled attack van ■ Report: Authorities believe no terror motive, driver suspected to be German man with psychological issues

Police and first responders at the scene where three people were killed and 20 injured when a van plowed into pedestrians in Muenster, Germany on April 7, 2018.
FRISO GENTSCH/AFP

German police say three people were killed and about 20 wounded after a van drove into a crowd of people in the western German city of Muenster on Saturday, according to local officials.

The van drove into people sitting at tables outside the Grosser Kiepenkerl restaurant, which is popular with tourists, the police spokeswoman said.

A map of Muenster, Germany.

Local reports said that six of the wounded are in life threatening condition.

German police say the suspect took his own life by shooting himself in the van and they are checking reports that other perpetrators may have fled from the scene.

Police have found a "suspicious object" in the van, though it remains unclear what the object is and whether it poses any danger.

Police vans stand in downtown Muenster, Germany, Saturday, April 7, 2018.
/AP
Special Police officers in Muenster, Germany where a van ploughed into pedestrians on April 7, 2018.
BERND THISSEN/AFP

A leading German newspaper is reporting that authorities believe there is no terrorist motive behind the deadly van crash in Muenster and the driver is believed to be a middle-aged German man who had psychological issues. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung paper also says the suspect's apartment was being searched for possible explosives.

A police spokesman however said that  the driver's identity was not yet known and that it was too early to speculate about his motive. Earlier a security source said that an attack "cannot be ruled out."

Police said they were not looking for further suspects after the driver took his own life after the crash, but on Twitter they urged people to avoid Muenster city centre. 

"The danger is over," the police spokeswoman said. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is "deeply shocked by the terrible events in Muenster."

In a statement, Merkel said "everything conceivable is being done to investigate the crime and to support the victims and their relatives. My thanks go to all the responders at the scene."

A van crashed into a crowd outside a popular bar Saturday in the western German city, killing three people and injuring 20 others. The driver of the vehicle then shot and killed himself. Police are reportedly searching his apartment and checking reports of other possible accomplices who may have fled from the van at the scene.

Merkel said she is "in constant contact" with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and other in Muenster.

The incident came one year to the day after a truck attack in Stockholm that killed five people, and also evoked memories of a December 2016 truck attack in Berlin that killed 12 people. 

Anis Amri, a failed Tunisian asylum seeker with Islamist links, hijacked a truck on December 19, 2016, killed the driver and then ploughed it into a crowded marketplace, killing 11 more people and injuring dozens of others. 

"I am shocked by the news from Muenster," said Andrea Nahles, parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats, junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition. 

"My thoughts are with the victims and their relatives," she added. "I hope that our authorities can quickly clarify the background to this incident and wish the local forces much strength for their work."

Police at the scene after a car ploughed into pedestrians in Muenster, western Germany on April 7, 2018.
-/AFP