Police secure the area near the scene of a car crashing into pedestrians in Trier, southwestern Germany (AFP)
BERLIN: Four people, including a nine-month-old baby, were killed and up to 15 injured on Tuesday when a speeding car entered a pedestrian area in the city of Trier, western Germany , in what the authorities described as a deliberate act.
Witnesses said people screamed in panic and some were thrown into the air by the car as it crashed into the shopping area.
“We arrested one person, a vehicle was secured,” police said, adding that a 51-year-old German suspect from the Trier area was subdued minutes after the incident and was now being questioned, the police said. police.
Prosecutor Peter Fritzen later said at a press conference that the suspect had drunk a significant amount of alcohol and that authorities did not assume there was a militant Islamist motive for the incident.
Trier Mayor Wolfram Leibe said: “It looks like we are talking about a suspect with a mental disorder, but we must not be premature on judgment.”
Rhineland-Palatinate Interior Minister Roger Lewentz said four people were killed and four seriously injured were among the injured. He said the route taken by the driver indicated that he had committed the act on purpose.
Mayor Leibe said a nine-month-old baby was among the dead.
“We have a driver who went wild in the city,” he told state broadcaster SWR earlier.
“I just walked through downtown and it was horrible. There is a trainer lying on the floor and the girl he belongs to is dead, ”he said. He told N-TV that people who saw the incident were “totally traumatized” and the street “looks a bit like after a war”.
The incident shocked residents of Germany’s oldest city, founded by the Romans over 2,000 years ago.
The Trierischer Volksfreund cited a witness who said a Range Rover was traveling at high speed and people were thrown into the air. He said the car had Trier plates.
He reported that people screamed in panic when the car crossed the street.
Officers scoured the area for evidence, supported by police officers dressed in bulletproof vests and carrying machine guns. In the streets, Christmas lights twinkled incongruously.
Germany has stepped up security in pedestrian areas across the country since a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market in 2016 that killed 12 people and injured dozens.
In October 2019, a man opened fire on a synagogue in the city of Halle. After failing to enter the building, he lashed out outside, killing two people.
In February this year, a racist gunman killed nine migrants in Hanau, near Frankfurt, before killing himself and his mother. Only about a week later, a local man plowed his car in a carnival parade in the town of Volkmarsen, injuring 61.
Germany has tightened measures to fight the coronavirus, with bars and restaurants closed, but shops and schools are still open.
“What happened in Trier is shocking. Our hearts go out to the relatives of the victims, the many injured and all those currently on duty to care for the victims,” spokesperson Steffen Seibert said on Twitter. of Chancellor Angela Merkel. .