Suspected far-right attacker 'intentionally' rams car into crowd of Syrian and Afghan citizens in Germany

Driver, 50, tries three times to strike pedestrians with his vehicle, police say

Tom Batchelor@_tombatchelor
Tuesday 01 January 2019 14:32
Suspected far-right attacker 'intentionally' rams car into crowd of Syrian and Afghan citizens in Germany

Four people have been injured after a man intentionally drove into a crowd of people in Germany in what appeared to be a racist far-right attack, police said.

Those hit by the car included Syrian and Afghan citizens and the driver made anti-foreigner comments during his arrest, according to officials.

The man, who fled the scene, made racist comments when he was later stopped and arrested, according to a statement by local police and prosecutors.

"Investigators suspect it was a deliberate attack that may be linked to the xenophobic views of the driver," the statement said.

Police in the city of Bottrop, in western Germany, said a 50-year-old man drove at a pedestrian, who managed to get out of the way of the vehicle, shortly after midnight on New Year's Day.

He then drove into the city centre, allegedly ramming a crowd with his Mercedes before fleeing towards the nearby city of Essen where he attempted to drive into a group of people waiting at a bus stop, German newspaper Die Zeit reported.

Police said the attack was presumed to be premeditated.

One of the four injured people remains in hospital, a police spokesperson said.

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Police said there were indications the suspect is mentally ill.

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 19 December 2016, a Tunisian man ploughed a truck into a busy Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.

The attack was claimed by Isis and the driver, who fled the scene, was later killed in a shoot-out with police in Italy.