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Germany car attack: Man charged with attempted murder after racist vehicle rammings in Bottrop

Police say suspect made ‘racist remarks’ upon arrest after incident left several migrants injured

Tom Barnes
Wednesday 02 January 2019 13:38 GMT
Suspected far-right attacker 'intentionally' rams car into crowd of Syrian and Afghan citizens in Germany

German prosecutors have charged a man with attempted murder after he allegedly rammed a car into a crowd of people in what is suspected to be a far-right attack.

The 50-year-old was detained after a Mercedes was driven into people celebrating shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day in the city of Bottrop, western Germany.

Several people were injured in the incident, seven of whom were migrants from Syria and Afghanistan, including a 4-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl.

An eighth man, who suffered a leg injury in the crash, was identified as a German man of Turkish descent.

The suspect made a getaway from the scene, before attempting to mow down pedestrians in the nearby city of Essen shortly after, prosecutors said.

Police stopped and arrested a German national later that evening, who they said had made racist remarks as he was being detained.

One Syrian woman hurt in the incident suffered life-threatening injuries and is recovering in hospital after an emergency operation, police announced.

“The man had the clear intention to kill foreigners,” interior minister for the state North Rhine-Westphalia, Herbert Reul, told German press agency DPA.

Armin Laschet, minister president of the state and a member of the centre-right CDU party, described the attack as an act of “right-wing violence.”

“My thoughts are with the victims of the attack in Bottrop,” he said in a statement on Twitter on Monday.

“On this New Year's Day, the resolution for 2019 is clearer than ever: we stand together against right-wing violence.

“We will continue the fight against hatred of other people with all means of the rule of law.”

Police in the city of Münster said on Wednesday a judge had approved a request by prosecutors to formally charge the man, who has yet to be named, with multiple counts of attempted murder.

Authorities had previously said the suspect had no prior record of offending, but preliminary investigations suggested he had been treated for mental health issues in the past.

The incident is not the first time a vehicle has been used as an apparent weapon in Germany in recent years.

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

In December 2016, a Tunisian man ploughed a truck into a busy Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people, with Isis later claiming responsibility for the attack.

The driver, who fled the scene, was later killed in a shootout with police in Italy.

Additional reporting by agencies

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