At least two people were killed and several others wounded on Saturday in the city center of Münster, in northwestern Germany, when a vehicle hit a crowd. The driver committed suicide by shooting, said the German police, which dismisses the thesis of the terrorist attack Islamist.
The incident took place around 15.30 local time in the city center of Münster, while the terraces were full and shops filled with customers.
“The perpetrator stepped onto café and restaurant terraces in a downtown square,” police spokesman Andreas Bode said.
“The driver shot himself,” said Bode, who said about 20 people were also injured, six of whom are in critical condition.
The Interior Minister of the North Rhine-Westphalia region, where Münster is located, dismissed on Saturday night the hypothesis of an Islamist attack, and mentioned that the driver was a German citizen.
“Nothing indicates for the moment that we are dealing with Islamist motivations,” said Herbert Reul to the press, before reducing the number of deaths to two.
The driver reportedly suffered psychological problems, according to the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung .
For its part, the public TV channel ZDF claims that the individual involved in the attack had “recently” attempted suicide and that the vehicle used to charge the crowd was registered in his name.
The authorities did not immediately confirm this information.
According to ZDF, the man was linked to the German far right, while the newspaper Der Spiegel reports that an assault rifle was found at his home.
The investigators also allegedly uncovered a “suspicious object” in the vehicle. The daily Die Welt argues that it would be a gun connected to an object hidden under a carpet placed on the ground.
Fearing the presence of explosives, the police sent deminers to the scene.
The police formally deny the information that there is a second suspect.
Images broadcast on German television showed several police vehicles and firefighters stationed in the center of this city of more than 300,000 inhabitants.
The attack took place on the terrace of the Kiepenkerl café, a stone’s throw from Münster cathedral. It is a tourist place, typical of the city.
The police also called on Twitter residents to avoid the picturesque center of this city frequented by many cyclists.
The Münster hospital asks people to donate blood.
Chancellor Merkel reacted on Twitter, saying she was “deeply upset” by “the terrible events”
“I am shocked by the news coming from Münster,” commented Andrea Nahles, head of the Social Democratic deputies, members of Angela Merkel’s coalition.
“My thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones,” she added.
I hope that the authorities can quickly establish the context of this event.
Andrea Nahles, Leader of the Social Democrats
French President Emmanuel Macron wrote his condolences to Germany on Saturday night for “the attack on Münster” in the afternoon.
All my thoughts for the victims of the attack on Münster. France shares the suffering of Germany.
In December 2016, Germany was hit by a car-ram attack on a Christmas market , which left 12 dead. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) armed group.