Three people were killed and 20 injured after a van rammed into a crowd of people in Münster, Germany on Saturday afternoon. Der Spiegel reports that police are treating the incident as a terrorist attack, and that the driver shot and killed himself while still in the car after the crash, bringing the total number of dead to four. At least 20 people were injured, including six critically. The driver’s identity and motive are not yet clear.
Police are also investigating witness reports that other perpetrators may have fled the vehicle after it crashed. Authorities reportedly found a suspicious device in the vehicle as well, but it’s been confirmed if it was an explosive of not.
The suspected attack happened in a cobblestone plaza outside the Kiepenkerl restaurant in the city’s popular old town, and images of the aftermath showed that the van had smashed through at least several cafe tables before coming to a stop. Saturday was the warmest day of the year so far in the city, so it is likely that the area, which is filled with cafes and shops, was very crowded.
Special forces personnel were deployed in Münster’s city center following the incident, and police have asked people to avoid the area, stay in their homes, and to not spread rumors.
The Münster incident follows numerous terrorist attacks that have weaponized vehicles throughout Europe over the past three years. The last such ramming attack in Germany happened in December of 2016, when a Tunisian man who had pledged allegiance to ISIS drove a stolen tractor trailer into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin. 12 people were killed in that attack. Saturday’s incident also comes approximately one year after a vehicle ramming attack killed four people in Stockholm, Sweden. An additional 34 people were killed in vehicle attacks which struck London, Barcelona, and New York last year.