A German man ploughed his car into a carnival parade in the western town of Volkmarsen yesterday, injuring 30 people including children, police said, adding it was too early to say what his motive was.
German prosecutors and police said the suspect, a 29-year-old German citizen, was being treated for injuries sustained in the incident and they were looking into all possibilities.
“It can be assumed that it was intentional,” police spokesman Henning Hinn told reporters.
He said 8-10 of those injured were seriously hurt.
“Among those who are seriously injured are children, unfortunately,” Hinn said at the scene, where debris from the carnival littered the ground and a silver Mercedes-Benz car that appeared to have been involved was taped off by police.
Regional broadcaster Hessenschau said police believed the driver had acted deliberately, but that they could not question him due to his injuries.
German news website HNA cited witnesses saying the man appeared to have targeted children and had driven “at full throttle” into the crowd, which had gathered for a traditional procession ahead of the Christian season of Lent.
“People were coming towards me, crying,” Bild newspaper quoted local county commissioner Reinhard Kubat as saying. “There were mainly injured children in the street, but also older people.
“Children came up to me and said it sounded like ‘Plop, plop, plop’ whenever the car ran over a person.”
Asked how many people were hurt, a police spokesman in the regional centre of Kassel said: “I would say about 30.”
Bild said some of the injuries were life-threatening and that police assumed it was an attack, but there were no indications that it was politically-motivated.
The incident comes less than a week after a man shot dead nine people before killing his mother and himself, in one of the worst racist attacks in Germany since World War II.
Police called off all carnival parades in the German state of Hesse, where Volkmarsen is located, as a precautionary measure, but said they were not aware of any danger elsewhere in Germany.
Carnivals are hugely popular in parts of western Germany, especially in Rhineland cities such as Cologne and Duesseldorf, where festivities peak on “Rose Monday” with tens of thousands of people attending street parades featuring comical or satirical floats.
Police cars and ambulances rushed to the scene in Volkmarsen, a small town in northern Hesse, 260 miles (420km) west of Berlin.
“We are on the ground with a big deployment. An investigation is underway,” north Hesse police said on Twitter after the incident, which they said occurred about 2.45pm (1345 GMT).
German media said the driver deliberately broke through plastic barriers set up by police around the parade area, where 1,500 people were expected to gather.
The car continued driving through the crowd for about 30m (33 yards) before coming to a halt, a witness told Hessenschau.
In 2016, a Tunisian man with Islamist militant ties ploughed a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.
He was later shot dead by Italian police after he had fled Germany.
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