At least 30 people were injured on Monday after a man drove into a crowd at a Carnival parade in the German town of Volkmarsen, police said.
Police spokesman Henning Hinn said “there were several dozen injured, among them some seriously, and sadly also children.” Some of the injuries were life-threatening, he added. Hinn continued: “We are working on the assumption that it was a deliberate act.”
The number of those seriously injured was put at seven by Frankfurt police and the Hesse Interior Minister Peter Beuth said roughly a third of all those wounded were children.
The Frankfurt General Prosecutor’s Office, who are in charge of the investigation along with state police, released a statement saying they did not know the motive of the driver. The statement confirmed he was a 29-year-old German citizen from Volkmarsen and was detained in custody after the incident.
The statement read: “The General Prosecutor’s Office in Frankfurt am Main and the Hessian police are investigating against a 29-year-old German citizen from Volkmarsen who is urgently suspected of having driven a car into a group of people during the Rose Monday procession in Volkmarsen at about 2.45 p.m. (1345 GMT).”
The statement continued: “The injured are currently being treated in the surrounding hospitals. The accused was arrested by the police on site and is currently under medical treatment due to the injuries he suffered in connection with the incident. The accused is to be brought before the investigating judge as soon as his state of health permits.”
All parades in Hesse were subsequently called off as a precautionary measure, the statement concluded.
Later on Monday, Frankfurt police chief Gerhard Bereswill said that there had been a second arrest following the incident.
The principal suspect, the driver of the car, was not known to authorities as an extremist, security sources told German news agency DPA. He was known to police in connection with other offences, however, including breach of the peace and assault.
German government responds
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said via her deputy government spokeswoman: “My thoughts are with the wounded of Volkmarsen and their loved ones. I wish all of you a speedy and complete recovery. Many thanks to the police and all the emergency services.”
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas echoed Merkel’s sentiments as he tweeted: “Our thoughts are with the injured by #Volkmarsen. We hope that everyone will recover well and quickly. And from the bottom of my heart thanks to the emergency services on site.”
The town of Volkmarsen is in the state of Hesse, some 280 kilometers (175 miles) west of Berlin. Dozens of ambulances were called to the scene, as well as a helicopter.
The crash came at the height of Germany’s celebration of Carnival, with the biggest parades in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mainz.
Video footage from the scene showed a silver Mercedes with local license plates and its hazard lights flashing on a sidewalk, while emergency crews were in attendance. The crash occurred on the south side of the town, by a supermarket.
Area cordoned off, silver Mercedes that drove into crowd still visible
Police shut down the area where the incident took place and urged people not to spread “unconfirmed reports” about the crash. DW’s Rebecca Staudenmaier reported from the scene that police had “blocked many roads leading up to the site” and that there was “a heavy police presence several emergency crews on the scene” late into the evening in Volkmarsen.