At least one person killed as car drives into crowd in Berlin

A car drives into a group of people in central Berlin before smashing through a shop front, killing at least one person and injuring several others.

The covered body of a victim is pictured at the site where one person was killed and eight injured when a car drove into a group of people in central Berlin
The covered body of a victim is pictured at the site where a car drove into a group of people in central Berlin [Adam Berry/AFP]

At least one person was killed and a dozen others injured when a car drove into a group of people at a busy shopping district in central Berlin, according to police.

The driver was briefly detained by passers-by before being handed to police after the car smashed through a shop front on Wednesday, according to a police spokesman Thilo Cablitz.

It was not clear whether the crash was intentional, police said.

“It is too early to speculate about the background (of the incident),” an interior ministry spokesperson told a regular federal government news conference in Berlin.

Police identified the driver as a 29-year-old German-Armenian, while Germany’s Bild newspaper identified the victim as a teacher who was in the street with a group of her school children.

The accident happened at about 10:30am (08:30 GMT) just across from Breitscheidplatz, where an ISIL (ISIS) armed group sympathiser ploughed a truck through a Christmas market in 2016, killing 12.

About 130 emergency personnel were deployed to the scene, where several people were seriously injured and some were airlifted by helicopter for treatment.

“There are seriously injured people among the more than a dozen injured,” said Cablitz.

The silver Renault Clio with a Berlin licence plate first drove into a crowd at the corner of Tauentzienstrasse and Rankestrasse, before returning to the road and then ramming into the shop front on Marburgerstrasse about 150 metres (165 yards) away.

The car that was droven into a group of people, killing one person and injuring eight is pictured in central Berlin
A police spokeswoman said the driver was detained at the scene after the car ploughed into a shop front in a busy shopping street in Charlottenburg district [Odd Andersen/AFP]

‘Happened so fast’

Frank Vittchen, a witness at the scene, told the AFP news agency he was sitting at a fountain nearby when he “heard a big crash and then also saw a person fly through the air”.

The vehicle drove “at high speed onto the pavement and didn’t brake”, he said, with its windows shattering from the impact.

“It all happened so fast,” he said.

Germany has been on high alert for car-ramming attacks since the deadly 2016 Christmas market assault, with most carried out by people who were found to have psychological issues.

In December 2020, a German man ploughed his car through a pedestrian shopping street in the southwestern city of Trier, killing four adults and a baby.

Rescue workers work at the site where one person was killed and eight injured when a car drove into a group of people in central Berlin
It was not clear whether Wednesday’s crash was intentional [Odd Andersen/AFP]

Earlier the same year, a German man rammed his car through a carnival procession in the central town of Volkmarsen, injuring dozens of bystanders, including children. He was sentenced to life in jail last year.

In January 2019, another German man injured eight people when he drove into crowds on New Year’s Eve in the western cities of Bottrop and Essen. He was later taken into psychiatric care.

In April 2018, a German crashed his van into people seated outside a restaurant in the city of Muenster, killing five before shooting himself dead. Investigators later said he had mental health problems.

During the football World Cup in Germany in 2006, a German man rammed his car into crowds gathered to watch a match at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, injuring some 20 people. The driver was later committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Source: News Agencies