Man drives deliberately into crowd in west Germany, injures 4
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Man drives deliberately into crowd in west Germany, injures 4

Victims, some badly hurt, are Syrian and Afghan citizens; 50-year-old driver tries twice more to hit people in Bottrop but fails, is arrested

Illustrative. German police cars. (screen capture: YouTube/ VanochCZ)
Illustrative. German police cars. (screen capture: YouTube/ VanochCZ)

BERLIN — German police said at least four people were injured after a man intentionally drove into a crowd of people in western Germany in what appears to have been an attack directed at foreigners.

Muenster police said the 50-year-old driver of a Mercedes drove into a crowd in the center of Bottrop shortly after midnight, on Tuesday morning. Two other attempts by the driver to drive into other people failed.

Police said those hit by the car included Syrian and Afghan citizens, and some were seriously injured. The driver fled toward the nearby city of Essen before being stopped and arrested by police.

Authorities said the driver made anti-foreigner comments during his arrest and the attack is presumed to have been premeditated. Police said there are indications the suspect suffered from mental illness.

“Investigating authorities are currently working on the assumption that this was a targeted attack, possibly motivated by the anti-foreigner views of the driver,” police said, adding that there were indications the suspect suffered from mental illness.

Angela Luettmann, a spokeswoman for Muenster police, couldn’t immediately confirm whether the driver was German but said he came from Essen.

In April, a German man drove a van into a crowd in Muenster, killing four people and injuring dozens. The driver, who had sought psychological help in the weeks preceding the attack, then killed himself.

On December 19, 2016, a Tunisian man plowed a truck into a busy Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people. The attack was later claimed by the Islamic State group. The driver, who fled the scene, was later killed in a shootout with police in Italy.

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