German driver targeted foreigners in car attack

Police cordoned off the area in Bottrop where several people were injured after a man drove into a group of revellers on New Year's Eve.
Police cordoned off the area in Bottrop where several people were injured after a man drove into a group of revellers on New Year's Eve.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BERLIN • A 50-year-old German man accused of driving a car into groups of foreigners on New Year's Eve has been formally remanded in custody for attempted murder, police said yesterday.

Eight people, including two children, were wounded in an assault that police described as a "targeted attack motivated by the driver's hostility to foreigners".

The German man is accused of accelerating his car at groups of revellers in Bottrop and Essen, two cities in the west of Germany. He was arrested the same night.

The car hit several people in Bottrop, injuring a four-year-old Afghan boy and his mother, 29, as well as a 10-year-old Syrian girl, said police in a statement.

A Syrian woman, 46, who was also severely hurt in the incident, was declared out of danger after undergoing surgery.

The region's interior minister, Mr Herbert Reul, said the accused "had the clear intention to kill foreigners".

The man was not formerly known to police. According to the Spiegel Online news website, he had been treated for schizophrenia in the past. The unemployed man reportedly told police that "the high number of foreigners is a problem for Germany that he wants to solve", said Spiegel.

 
 
 

In a separate attack in Britain, a 25-year-old man suspected of stabbing three people with a kitchen knife at Manchester Victoria train station on New Year's Eve was being held and assessed for mental health issue, police said.

Greater Manchester Police were, however, continuing to investigate the attack because of suspected links to terrorism, they said in a statement.

Police raided the man's home in the city's Cheetham Hill area. His name has not yet been released.

A witness, a BBC producer who was at the busy station full of New Year's Eve revellers, said a man stabbed several people at the station, shouting "Allah" and linking his actions to "bombings in other countries".

The station is very close to Manchester Arena, where a suicide bomb attack in May 2017 killed 22 people as they left a concert by pop star Ariana Grande.

Two of those wounded, a woman and a man in their 50s, were in a serious but not life-threatening condition, police said. The third, a male police officer in his 30s who sustained a stab wound to his shoulder, was released from hospital earlier.

"The Counter Terrorism investigation remains ongoing," police said. "There is nothing to suggest the involvement of other people in this attack, but confirming this remains a main priority for the investigation."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2019, with the headline 'German driver targeted foreigners in car attack'. Print Edition | Subscribe