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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Germany car ramming kills three

The driver killed himself shortly after ploughing into pedestrians

At least three people were killed and dozens more injured on Saturday when a van was driven at speed into a crowd outside a bar in the German city of Munster.

The van crashed into people sitting in front of the popular Kiepenkerl bar in the city’s picturesque medieval centre.

Police said the driver fled the scene but then shot himself dead moments later.

The incident, which also left six people in critical condition, resulted in the city going into lockdown last night with its 300,000 residents told by police to stay indoors. It followed a spate of attacks on civilian populations across Europe by assailants inspired by ISIL.

While police did not provide a motive initially, German media reports said the dead assailant was believed to be a German man in his 40s who had psychological issues and no known links to terrorism. They said that his apartment was being searched for explosives.

A large area around the scene was cordoned off as police investigated a suspicious object discovered in the van.

Police said they were checking reports by witnesses that other perpetrators might have fled from the van at the scene of the crash.

Alvaro Sanmarti / The National
Alvaro Sanmarti / The National

Markus Lewe, the mayor of Munster, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, said that "all of Munster is mourning this horrible incident”.

“Our sympathy is with the relatives of those who were killed. We wish the injured a quick recovery."

German television images showed police and firefighting vehicles clustered around a street in the centre of the city. Armed police were deployed.

A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said "our thoughts are with the victims and their families".

The incident was reminiscent of a December 2016 attack at a Christmas market in Berlin, where 12 people were killed by a man driving a lorry into a crowd. Tunisian national Anis Amri, 24, was shot dead by Italian police in Milan four days later after travelling through several European countries. ISIL claimed responsibility for that attack.

ISIL also claimed several similar attacks in Europe, including a rampage along Barcelona's Las Ramblas boulevard in August 2017 that killed 14.

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