German charged with attempted murder after NYE terror scare
Unemployed man drove car into crowds as he targeted migrants
A German man accused of driving a car into groups of foreigners on New Year's Eve was formally remanded in custody on Wednesday on charges of attempted murder.
Eight people, including two children, were wounded in an assault that police described as a "targeted attack motivated by the driver's hostility to foreigners".
The unemployed man is accused of accelerating his car at groups of New Year revelers in Bottrop and Essen, two cities in the west of Germany. He told police that foreigners needed to be removed from the country.
His silver Mercedes first attempted to hit a group of people in Bottrop shortly after midnight, but the pedestrians were able to jump out of the way. He then drove into the centre of Bottrop where he slammed into a crowd.
The car hit several people in Bottrop, injuring a four-year-old Afghan boy and his mother, 29, as well as a 10-year-old Syrian girl, said police in a statement.
A Syrian woman, 46, who was also severely hurt in the incident, was declared out of danger after undergoing surgery. Her husband was also hurt.
Once again escaping the scene, the car moved on to the nearby city of Essen, where he tried and failed to hit people waiting at a bus stop
The region's interior minister, Herbert Reul, said the accused "had the clear intention to kill foreigners".
German newspapers have reported that the attacker had previously been treated for schizophrenia.
While officials have said the driver appeared to have spontaneously decided to launch his attacks, the motive was clearly racist. Herbert Ruel, the North Rhine-Westphalian interior minister, said the suspect had a "clear intention to kill foreigners".
The suspect had made racist remarks when police officers detained him near Essen, according to a police spokesman.
Germany has seen similar assaults on migrants in recent years. Last April another man drove a van into a crowd in Munster, killing four people and injuring dozens. The driver, who had sought psychological help in the weeks preceding the attack, then killed himself.
A Tunisian man ploughed a truck into a busy Christmas market in Berlin in 2016, killing 12 people. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group. The driver, who fled the scene, was later killed in a shootout with police in Italy.
Meanwhile British authorities in Manchester defended the launched of a terrorism investigation into a man who carried out a stabbing attack at the Victoria railway station on New Year's Eve. The 25-year old has been detained under the mental health act.
Updated: January 2, 2019 05:08 PM