Several hurt as car rams German carnival crowd; driver arrested

Police officers and rescue vehicles next to a silver vehicle with its doors open, after the Volkmarsen incident in which some people were hurt.
Police officers and rescue vehicles next to a silver vehicle with its doors open, after the Volkmarsen incident in which some people were hurt.PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN • Several people, reportedly including children, were injured yesterday when a car drove into a carnival procession in central Germany, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested.

A police spokesman in the town of Volkmarsen in northern Hesse, where the incident took place, told the Agence France-Presse "it is too soon" to say if the driver ploughed into the crowd on purpose.

"According to first reports, several people have been injured," police from nearby Kassel city said in a statement.

A picture from the scene showed police officers and rescue vehicles next to a silver Mercedes station wagon with its doors open near a pile of debris on the side of the road.

German news website HNA cited witnesses as saying the driver appeared to have deliberately targeted children and had driven into the crowd "at full throttle".

The local Waldeckische Zeitung daily cited witnesses as reporting some 15 people were injured, "including small children", in the small town of over 6,000 residents.

The car had continued driving through the crowd for about 30m before coming to a halt in the incident, an eyewitness told broadcaster Hessenschau.

After the incident, police shut down the area and urged people not to spread "unconfirmed reports" about the crash.

"We are on the ground with a big deployment. An investigation is under way," north Hesse police said on Twitter.

In many parts of Germany, residents are celebrating Rose Monday, a highlight of the annual carnival festivities that sees adults and children dress up and attend parades where people play music and throw candies from floats.

The carnival is hugely popular in parts of western Germany, especially in Rhineland cities such as Cologne and Duesseldorf. Several cities in western Germany cancelled their traditional carnival parades at short notice on Sunday because of inclement weather, the Independent reported.

German media said the driver deliberately broke through plastic barriers set up by police around the parade area.

The incident comes as Germany is still reeling from a shooting spree in the city of Hanau, in the same German state of Hesse, that left 10 people dead last Wednesday.

The gunman, who left behind a racist manifesto, first opened fire at a shisha bar and a cafe, killing nine people, before shooting dead his mother and himself.

Germany's deadliest terror attack in recent history happened in 2016 when a radical Islamist drove his truck into a crowded Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2020, with the headline 'Several hurt as car rams German carnival crowd; driver arrested'. Print Edition | Subscribe