Several Fatalities Reported In Germany After Car Drives Into Crowd of People

Updated | A man drove his van into a crowd of people in the German city of Muenster on Saturday, causing at least two fatalities and more than a dozen injuries, according to authorities.

Excluding the driver, at least two people were killed and 20 more seriously injured, police told the Associated Press. Authorities said the suspect killed himself at the scene, near Kiepenkerl, a bar in the downtown area that has high foot traffic on weekends. Police initially said they were searching for other suspects who may have fled the scene.

"There are deaths and injuries," the Muenster police department tweeted. "Please avoid the area."

The suspect, who has not yet been identified by police, is believed to be a middle-aged German national with a history of mental instability, the German Interior Ministry said.

"At the moment, nothing spears for there being any Islamist background," said Herbert Ruel, the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Muenster is located.

Police found a suspicious device inside the van and were in investigating what it was and whether it could be dangerous shortly after the incident. Emergency responders were on the scene treating injured, police said.

Authorities urged people to avoid the area while they investigate. Muenster Mayor Markus Lewe said the reason for the crash wasn't yet clear. A few hours after the attack, multiple local news agencies said that the culprit was a German national, including newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, one the largest dailies in Germany.

Pictures of the incident appear to show an outside patio completely demolished. The BBC reported that the driver of the car had shot himself.

"There are several dead, probably including the suspect," a police spokesperson said in a statement.

The incident sent fear rippling throughout Muenster on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon. The city, which is located in Northwest Germany, has a population of about 300,000. The area where the incident occurred is popular with tourists and the city's large college student population.

Lines snaked down the street from Muenster University Hospital, where people nearby gathered to donate blood and offer support. The response was so overwhelming that the hospital released a statement thanking the public, adding that no more volunteers were needed.

"I am shocked by the news from Muenster," Andrea Nahles, parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats and junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition, told Reuters. "My thoughts are with the victims and their relatives. I hope that our authorities can quickly clarify the background to this incident and wish the local forces much strength for their work."

The incident marks the 1-year anniversary of a terrorist attack in Stockholm, Sweden, in which a highjacked truck rammed into a crowd of people at a department store. Five people were killed and 14 others were seriously injured in that attack.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Several Fatalities Reported In Germany After Car Drives Into Crowd of People | World