Two people were killed and at least 15 injured – including a young baby girl – when an SUV ploughed through a busy pedestrian district in Germany’s southwestern city of Trier.
Around 2pm on Tuesday, police in the city near the border with Luxembourg, say a 51-year-old German national raced his SUV at speeds of up to 70km/h for around 1km through a narrow inner-city street.
Eye-witnesses say “people flew through the air” during the attack; police say the driver of the vehicle is a local man with no terrorist links, or record of political extremism.
“The perpetrator was arrested after targeting people indiscriminately with his vehicle,” said Mr Karl-Peter Jochem, a local police spokesman. “We cannot say anything yet about a motive, why he did it.”
Local media reported the man was well known in the city and often loitered drunk around kebab stands.
As police questioned the man on Tuesday afternoon, forensic investigators inspected the trail of destruction – mangled bicycles and cafe furniture – in the shopping precinct near the city’s Roman ruins.
“I just walked through the city centre and it was a horrifying scene ... it looks like war,” said Mayor Wolfram Leibe, fighting back tears at a press conference. “There was a running shoe lying there ... the girl who owned it is dead.”
Police look on as rescuers push an injured person into an ambulance at the scene in Trier, southwestern Germany. Photograph: Sebastian Schmitz/AFP via Getty Images
Local man Manfred Krames said he couldn’t believe what was happening outside his window on the main shopping street, on what he said was a normal, quiet afternoon.
“I was having a nap, my fiancé called me to the window saying something had happened,” he told the Bild tabloid. “I thought I was dreaming as I saw one person after another fell over as if they fainted, I thought it was a poison gas attack.”
Local police asked eye-witnesses to share with them – and not with social media – any photographs or video footage of the incident.
Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her condolences to the families of the victims, saying “what happened in Trier is simply harrowing”.
Tuesday’s attack was not the first of its kind in Germany. Dozens of people were injured in a similar incident in the nearby state of Hesse last February, and again on New Year’s Day 2019 in Germany’s western Ruhr area. Five people were killed in April 2018 when a driver rammed his camping van into a crowd in a pedestrian area of Münster in western Germany.