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German Police Investigate Motive for Muenster Restaurant Attack

In the attack on Saturday afternoon the man ploughed the vehicle into people seated at tables outside the Grosser Kiepenkerl eatery, a popular destination for tourists in the university city's old town.

Reuters

Updated:April 8, 2018, 4:43 PM IST
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German Police Investigate Motive for Muenster Restaurant Attack
Firefighters of the city of Muenster clean the area in front of the traditional Grosser Kiepenkerl guesthouse where a man drove a van into a group of people sitting outside its restaurant in the old city centre of Muenster, Germany, April 8, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay)
Berlin: German forensic police combed the area outside a restaurant in the western city of Muenster on Sunday as they tried to establish the motive of a man who drove a camper van into a group of diners, killing two before shooting himself dead.

In the attack on Saturday afternoon the man ploughed the vehicle into people seated at tables outside the Grosser Kiepenkerl eatery, a popular destination for tourists in the university city's old town.

Authorities have said the man was a German citizen and that there was "no indication of an Islamist background", but investigators have not said what motivated the attack.

"So far there are no indications of a possible background for the crime," senior public prosecutor Martin Botzenhardt said in a joint statement with Muenster police. "The investigations are being conducted at full speed and on all fronts."

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported in its online edition that the perpetrator was Jens R., 48, who resided some 2 km (1.2 miles) from the crime scene.

Broadcaster ZDF said police were searching his apartment and that he had contact with far-right extremists, but there was no evidence thus far that he was a far-right extremist himself.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung said the man had psychological problems. The Interior Ministry in North Rhine-Westphalia, where Muenster is located, would neither confirm nor deny the Sueddeutsche report.

The attack came a year to the day of a truck attack in Stockholm in which a suspected Islamist militant sympathiser links killed five people.

In Berlin in December 2016, a Tunisian man with links to Islamist militants hijacked a truck, killed the driver and then ploughed into a crowded marketplace, killing 11 more people and injuring dozens of others.

Focus Online reported that police had found no indications of anyone other than the van driver being involved.

A 51-year-old woman from the Lueneburg area in northern Germany and a 65-year-old man from the Borken area near Muenster were killed and the perpetrator shot himself after crashing the silver-grey coloured van into the outside area of the restaurant, police said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement she was "deeply shaken". On Saturday evening, the White House issued a statement sending U.S. President Donald Trump's "thoughts and prayers" to the families of those killed.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: "All my thoughts are with the victims of the attack in Muenster. France shares in Germany's suffering".

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| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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