Several dead as van rams into crowd in Germany's Muenster

People gathering around several of the injured at the scene of the incident. The van drove into people sitting at tables outside the Grosser Kiepenkerl restaurant, which is popular with tourists, said police.
People gathering around several of the injured at the scene of the incident. The van drove into people sitting at tables outside the Grosser Kiepenkerl restaurant, which is popular with tourists, said police.PHOTO: TWITTER

At least four killed, including driver; authorities viewing incident as an attack

BERLIN • At least four people were killed yesterday when a vehicle ploughed into pedestrians in the German city of Muenster, the Interior Ministry said, as quoted by news agency DPA.

A ministry spokesman said the death toll included the driver of the vehicle.

A spokesman for the police in the western city told Agence France-Presse that the vehicle driver "shot himself" after driving into a crowd of people and injuring about 30 bystanders. "There are deaths and injured. Please avoid the area, we are on scene," the regional police service said on Twitter.

Police also urged people to refrain from spreading "speculation" about the incident.

According to the online edition of the Spiegel magazine, the German authorities were assuming that the incident was an attack, though there was no immediate official confirmation of a motive.

Images broadcast on German television showed several police and firefighting vehicles clustered around a street in the centre of the picturesque mediaeval city of 300,000 people.

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

In photos of the scene, crowds can be seen gathered around several injured people, while restaurant chairs and tables are scattered across the ground. Panicked people can be seen calling for help.

Armed police were deployed and officers urged residents to avoid the city centre to allow investigators to get to work.

Germany has experienced a number of terror attacks in recent years, including through the deadly use of vehicles. On Dec 19, 2016, Tunisian national Anis Amri, 24, hijacked a truck and slammed it into a crowd of people at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48.

Amri was shot dead by Italian police in Milan four days later after travelling through several European countries. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group claimed responsibility for that attack.

ISIS also claimed responsibility for several similar attacks in Europe, including a rampage along Barcelona's Las Ramblas boulevard in August last year that killed 14 and left more than 100 injured.

The deadliest such incident in recent years was in the French resort city of Nice in 2016, when a man rammed a truck into a crowd on France's national July 14 holiday, killing 86 people.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 08, 2018, with the headline 'Several dead as van rams into crowd in Germany's Muenster'. Print Edition | Subscribe