Germany seeks motive after van plows into crowd


Associated Press

MUENSTER, Germany

A van crashed into people drinking outside a popular bar Saturday in the German city of Muenster, killing two people and injuring 20 others before the driver of the vehicle shot and killed himself inside it, police said.

A top German security official said there was no indication of an Islamic extremist motive but officials were investigating all possibilities in the deadly crash that took place at 3:27 p.m. on a warm spring day.

Witnesses said people ran away screaming from the city square after the crash. Police quickly set up a large cordoned-off area for their investigation and ambulances rushed to the site.

Six of the 20 injured were in severe condition, according to police spokesman Andreas Bode.

Herbert Reul, the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, where Muenster is located, said the driver of the gray van was a German citizen. He stressed that the investigation was at an early stage but said “at the moment, nothing speaks for there being any Islamist background.”

“We have to wait, and we are investigating in all directions,” Reul said, adding that it was clearly not an accident.

Reul said two people were killed in the crash and the driver killed himself – lower than the earlier police toll of three dead plus the driver.

Police spokesman Peter Nuessmeyer told The Associated Press that he could not confirm German media reports that the perpetrator reportedly had psychological issues.

Bode told reporters that police were checking witness reports that other perpetrators might have fled from the van at the scene. Hours later, police spokeswoman Vanessa Arlt said “we didn’t find anything [to those reports] but we’re still investigating in all directions and not excluding anything.”

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