Baby among five dead in car ‘rampage’

 

A baby is among five people killed and more than a dozen injured after a car ploughed through Christmas shoppers in the southwestern German city of Trier on Tuesday.

Trier mayor Wolfram Leibe said the driver, a 51-year-old German man who was arrested by police, had gone "on a rampage".

Witnesses described seeing a pram "flying through the air" as the SUV charged at high speed into the pedestrian shopping area just after 1.30pm local time, leaving a trail of carnage in his wake for about a kilometre before coming to a halt.

Mr Leibe was quoted by SWR as saying that the driver had caused "several deaths" and injuries".

Speaking to reporters, with tears in his eyes, Mr Leibe recounted the shock of seeing a child's shoe on the street near the body of a girl.

"It's a horror scene," he said. "Many people are traumatised. I think this is Trier's darkest day since World War II."

Police said the suspect's car did not drive in a straight line but was repeatedly steered towards the pavements as it rampaged through the city centre.

The Range Rover was stopped near the city's old Roman gate and the suspect was arrested at the scene after being pinned to the ground by cops.

Video footage shared online video appeared to show officers detaining the driver after apparently ramming his car with their own vehicle.

German police said in a press conference that four people were killed including a nine-month-old baby and a local woman, 73.

The other victims killed were a 25-year-old woman from Trier and a man, 45, also from Trier.

They later said in a tweet that the death toll had risen to five.

Nine others have been left "seriously injured" with six slightly wounded following the shocking attack which has rocked the country.

The mother of the baby killed is one of those being treated in hospital.

Police sealed off the area and urged people to stay away from the city centre.

Police spokesman Karl-Peter Jochem told reporters that the driver was a German man from the local area and that "the danger is over".

He said the suspect was being questioned by officers but that his motive is not yet clear.

"It all happened very quickly. He could not escape and was detained by police," Mr Jochem said.

On Twitter, Trier police initially said two people were killed. A few minutes later, an updated tweet read, "Several dead and injured in Trier's inner city."

Police spokesman Uwe Konz told AFP it remained unclear what exactly had happened, saying "the background still needs to be clarified".

Police later said the man was drunk when he allegedly carried out the attack.

"There are no indications of a politically motivated background," police said in a statement.

Local media has identified the suspect as Bernd W. - described as a "strange individual" who is "quick-tempered and sometimes aggressive", his neighbours told Focus.

German privacy laws mean the alleged attacker's full surname cannot be published.

He is reportedly an unemployed electrician who grew up in a suburb of the western German city where he lived with his mother until she died a few years ago.

Prosecutor Peter Fritzen told reporters that initial indications "suggest that psychiatric problems possibly played a role".

The suspect does not have a criminal record and had been living in his car which had been lent to him, it has been reported.

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CHRISTMAS SHOPPING

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert on Twitter called the incident "shocking".

He said the country's thoughts were with the "relatives of the deceased, the many injured and with all those who are helping to care for those affected".

Roger Lewentz, the interior minister of the regional government, is due to give a press conference later.

Footage from the scene broadcast on NTV showed several police vans and other emergency vehicles parked on a wide shopping street in Trier, a large section of which appeared to have been cleared.

Shoppers were seen huddling outside shops festooned with Christmas decorations with sirens blaring in the distance.

Trier, near the border with Luxembourg, traces its history back to the Roman Empire and is often called Germany's oldest city.

Although Germany is grappling with a second coronavirus wave that has forced restaurants, bars, sports and cultural centres to close, retailers have been allowed to stay open and many people are out doing their Christmas shopping.

Although the incident has not been confirmed to be an attack, it brought back memories of the 2016 truck rampage at a Berlin Christmas market that left 12 people dead.

The driver, Anis Amri, was a failed Tunisian asylum seeker and a supporter of the Islamic State jihadist group.

He was shot dead a few days later by police in Milan. The truck assault remains Germany's deadliest Islamist attack.

In August 2019, six people were injured in a series of motorway accidents in Berlin in what prosecutors described as a suspected Islamist attack.

Originally published as Baby among five dead in car 'rampage'



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