Germany “van attack”: Three dead & 20 injured after vehicle ploughs into crowd in Muenster

Driver shot himself after the crash

Three people have been killed and 20 injured after a van ploughed into a crowd in the western German city of Muenster.

The vehicle crashed into people sitting in front of the famous Kiepenkerl bar in the historic downtown area on Saturday afternoon.

Shocking images posted on social media show a silver van among scattered tables and chairs in a cobbled square.

Others show a massive police presence as emergency services descended on the scene and a large area was sealed off.


A police spokesman said six people have suffered serious injuries.

Andreas Bode added that the driver of the van shot himself inside the car after the crash but, according to news agencies, German police are checking reports that other perpetrators may have fled from the van.

Police are checking witness reports that  others left the van after it crashed outside the popular bar and German news agency dpa reported that witnesses spoke of two others in the van besides the driver.

Officers have urged people in Muenster to stay inside their homes and avoid the crash scene in the city’s historic downtown.

The city centre remained closed following the incident, as police secured the area and worked to establish if there were any suspicious items in the vehicle.

Ambulances  stand in downtown Muenster, Germany, Saturday, April 7, 2018. German news agency dpa says several people killed after car crashes into crowd in city of Muenster.  (dpa via AP)

A object was found in the van, police said, and is being examined by officers. It is not yet clear if it is dangerous.

Daniel Kollenberg, who lives in the city, said he was “shocked” by the incident.

He told the BBC Muenster was “completely under lockdown”. He said there was a “heavy police presence” and “two police helicopters are in the air”.

Local police tweeted earlier: “There are dead and injured. Please avoid the area. More information can be found here. We are on site.”

Authorities said it was too early to speculate about the motive behind the crash, adding an investigation is underway.

A security source added: “The scenario is such that an attack cannot be ruled out.”

Residents were told “avoid the area near the Kiepenkerl pub” while a large-scale police operation got underway.

Police block a street near a place where a vehicle drove into a group of people killing several and injured many in Muenster Germany, April 7 2018. REUTERS/NonstopNews FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

The suspicious object in the van is understood to be the reason why a large area around the scene was cordoned off after the crash.

A spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “our thoughts are with the victims and their families”.

Ulrike Demmer added on Twitter that the crash was “terrible news”.

Exactly a year ago an attacker reported to be an Isis-sympathiser killed four people when he drove a truck into crowds in a busy street in Stockholm.

And a man killed 12 when he drove a lorry into a Christmas market in the German capital, Berlin, in December 2016.

Muenster is a city 300 miles west of Berlin.

Attacks in Western Europe in recent years

March 23, 2018 A gunman kills three people in southwestern France after holding up a car, firing on police and taking hostages in a supermarket, screaming “Allahu Akbar”. Security forces storm the building and kill him.

Aug. 17, 2017 – A van ploughs into crowds in the heart of Barcelona, killing at least 13 people, a regional official says, in what police said they were treating as a terrorist attack.

June 3, 2017 – Three attackers ram a van into pedestrians on London Bridge then stab revellers in nearby bars, killing eight people and injuring at least 48. Islamic State says its militants are responsible.

May 22, 2017 – A suicide bomber kills 22 children and adults and wounds 59 at a packed concert hall in the English city of Manchester, as crowds began leaving a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande.

April 7, 2017 – A truck drives into a crowd on a shopping street and crashes into a department store in central Stockholm, killing five people and wounding 15 in what police call a terrorist attack.

March 22, 2017 – An attacker stabs a policeman close to the British parliament in London after a car ploughs into pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge. Six people die, including the assailant and the policeman he stabbed, and at least 20 are injured in what police call a “marauding terrorist attack”.

Dec. 19, 2016 – A truck ploughs into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says authorities are assuming it was a terrorist attack.

July 26, 2016 – Two attackers kill a priest with a blade and seriously wound another hostage in a church in northern France before being shot dead by French police. French President Francois Hollande says the two hostage-takers had pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

July 24, 2016 – A Syrian man wounds 15 people when he blows himself up outside a music festival in Ansbach in southern Germany. Islamic State claims responsibility.

July 22, 2016 – An 18-year-old German-Iranian gunman apparently acting alone kills at least nine people in Munich. The teenager had no Islamist ties but was obsessed with mass killings. The attack was carried out on the fifth anniversary of twin attacks by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik that killed 77 people.

July 18, 2016 – A 17-year-old Afghan refugee wielding an axe and a knife attacks passengers on a train in southern Germany, severely wounding four, before being shot dead by police. Islamic State claims responsibility.

July 14, 2016 – A gunman drives a heavy truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice, killing 86 people and injuring scores more in an attack claimed by Islamic State. The attacker is identified as a Tunisian-born Frenchman.

June 14, 2016 – A Frenchman of Moroccan origin stabs a police commander to death outside his home in a Paris suburb and kills his partner, who also worked for the police. The attacker told police negotiators during a siege that he was answering an appeal by Islamic State.

March 22, 2016 – Three Islamic State suicide bombers, all Belgian nationals, blow themselves up at Brussels airport and in a metro train in the Belgian capital, killing 32 people. Police find links with attacks in Paris the previous November.

Nov. 13, 2015 – Paris is rocked by multiple, near simultaneous gun-and-bomb attacks on entertainment sites around the city, in which 130 people die and 368 are wounded. Islamic State claims responsibility. Two of the 10 known perpetrators were Belgian citizens and three others were French.

Jan. 7-9, 2015 – Two Islamist militants break into an editorial meeting of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 and rake it with bullets, killing 17. Another militant kills a policewoman the next day and takes hostages at a supermarket on Jan. 9, killing four before police shoot him dead.

May 24, 2014 – Four people are killed in a shooting at the Jewish Museum in central Brussels. The attacker was French national Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, who was subsequently arrested in Marseille, France. Extradited, he is awaiting trial in Belgium. (Editing by John Stonestreet and Hugh Lawson).