German police arrest man who drove car into crowd of foreigners ‘while making xenophobic remarks’
- Authorities are assuming it was a targeted attack, but police said they suspect the driver might be mentally ill
- Police said they ‘are currently working on the assumption that this was a targeted attack, possibly motivated by the anti-foreigner views of the driver’
A man has been arrested in Germany after ploughing his car into a crowd of people early on Tuesday, injuring at least four in what appears to have been an intentional attack directed at foreigners, police said.
The 50-year-old driver of a silver Mercedes first tried to hit a group of people in the western city of Bottrop soon after midnight, but the pedestrians were able to jump out of the way, Muenster police said.
The man, who wasn’t named, then drove into the centre of Bottrop where he slammed into a crowd. Police said those hit by the car included Syrian and Afghan citizens, and some were seriously injured.
The driver then sped off towards the nearby city of Essen, where he tried and failed to hit people waiting at a bus stop before being arrested by police on suspicion of attempted murder.
Authorities said the driver made anti-foreigner comments during his arrest.
“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 might be mentally ill.
Angela Luettmann, a spokeswoman for Muenster police, could not 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 ploughed a truck into a busy Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people. The attack was later claimed by Islamic State. The driver, who fled the scene, was later killed in a shoot-out with police in Italy.