03:46 GMT +323 February 2019
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    Police officers secure the crime scene after a car crashed into a group of people leaving several dead in Muenster, Germany, Saturday, April 7, 2018.

    Muenster Van Attack: What Is Known So Far

    © AP Photo/ Ferdinand Ostrop
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    On Saturday, April 7, a man rammed into customers and staff on a restaurant terrace in Germany’s western town of Muenster. Apart from the attacker, who committed suicide, 2 people were killed and 20 others injured in the deadly incident.

    What happened

    On Saturday, a small van drove into a crowd outside a restaurant in the historical center of Muenster. German police confirmed that three people were killed, including the perpetrator who committed suicide, and another 20 injured as a result of the incident.

    Police reported that the driver stopped the van immediately after the impact and shot himself inside the vehicle.

    ​Interior minister of Northern Rhine Westphalia state Herbert Reul said there was no indication of any Islamist context of the attack. 

    READ MORE: WATCH: California Sheriff Rams Car Into Protester During Stephon Clark Vigil

    Investigators found a gun in the van, which was attached with a wire to something underneath the car's floor carpeting. However, it was not connected to an improvised explosive device, according to Die Welt newspaper.

    What we know about the attacker

    Police spokesman Herbert Reul told reporters that police were checking witness reports that other perpetrators might have fled from the van at the scene. It was later reported that police hadn't found anything but were still investigating "in all directions and not excluding anything".

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel
    According to German media, the driver was a 49-year-old German national with a history of psychological problems. Television news said that he had recently attempted suicide and made known that he planned a more spectacular attempt. 

    Police confirmed that the perpetrator was a German citizen but could not immediately confirm the reports that he had a mental disorder, according to ABC News.

    People stay in front of a restaurant in Muenster, Germany, Saturday, April 7, 2018 after a vehicle crashed into a crowd killing 2 people and injuring 20 others.
    People stay in front of a restaurant in Muenster, Germany, Saturday, April 7, 2018 after a vehicle crashed into a crowd killing 2 people and injuring 20 others.

    Other reports say the man was employed as an industrial product designer and struggled with problems at work. According to Spiegel Online, an assault rifle was found at his Muenster apartment close to the scene of the crime.

    Police tweeted that residents should "avoid the area near the Kiepenkerl pub" where a large-scale operation was underway.

    International reaction

    German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed condolences to the victims of the Muenster attack, calling it a "horrible and disgusting act of violence." German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "deeply shocked by the terrible events in Muenster", adding that "every effort is now being made to investigate the crime and to assist victims and their families."

    ​NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Saturday also paid condolences to the victims, with Juncker expressing "great gratitude to all those who provided assistance in this difficult moment", as quoted by the press service of the European Commission.

    ​White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the United States was ready to provide all necessary support to Germany in the investigation of the incident.

    "President Donald J. Trump has been briefed on the horrific vehicle attack in Muenster… While the German authorities have not yet announced a motive for this cowardly attack on innocent people, we condemn it regardless, and pledge any support from the United States Government that Germany may need," Sanders said in the statement.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to Steinmeier and Merkel in connection with the tragedy, also asking to convey the words of sincere sympathy to the families and friends of the deceased and the wishes for a speedy recovery to all those injured in the incident.    


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