Latest: Two dead and 20 injured after van driven into crowd outside German pub

Latest: Two dead and 20 injured after van driven into crowd outside German pub
People stay in front of a restaurant in Muenster, Germany, today. Photo: Stephan R./dpa via AP.

Latest: 9.20pm:A van crashed into tables of people drinking outside a popular bar in the German city of Munster, killing two people and injuring 20 others before the driver killed himself, police have said.

A top German security official said there was no indication of an Islamic extremist motive but officials were investigating all possibilities after the deadly crash at 3.27pm local time on a warm spring day.

Witnesses said people ran away screaming from the city square after the crash.

Police quickly set up a large cordoned-off area for their investigation and ambulances rushed to the site.

Herbert Reul, the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, where Munster is located, said the driver of the grey van was a German citizen.

He stressed that the investigation was at an early stage but said "at the moment, nothing speaks for there being any Islamist background".

"We have to wait, and we are investigating in all directions," Mr Reul said, adding "(he) wilfully drove into a crowd of people."

Mr Reul said two people were killed in the crash and the driver shot himself dead.

That is lower than the earlier police toll of three dead plus the driver.

Rescue workers stand outside the crime scene after a car crashed into a group of people leaving several dead in Muenster, Germany, today. Photo: AP Photo/Ferdinand Ostrop.
Rescue workers stand outside the crime scene after a car crashed into a group of people leaving several dead in Muenster, Germany, today. Photo: AP Photo/Ferdinand Ostrop.

7.20pm: A van crashed into a crowd outside a popular bar in the German city of Munster, killing several people and injuring 20 others before the driver killed himself, police have said.

Police spokesman Peter Nuessmeyer said he could not confirm German media reports that the perpetrator was a middle-aged German man who reportedly had psychological issues.

Another police spokesman, Andreas Bode, told reporters the driver fatally shot himself in the van after the crash. He said the driver's identity was not yet known and that it was too early to speculate about his motive.

He said police were checking witness reports that other perpetrators might have fled from the van at the scene of the crash.

Police tweeted that residents should "avoid the area near the Kiepenkerl pub" in the city's historic downtown area where a large-scale police operation was under way.

Mr Bode said six of the 20 injured were in a severe condition.

Police also said they found a suspicious object in the van that they were examining to see if it is dangerous.

They told German news agency dpa that was the reason authorities cordoned off such a large area around the crash, which took place at 3.27pm local time on a warm spring day.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper also said the suspect's apartment was being searched for possible explosives.

Munster, a major university city, has about 300,000 residents and an attractive city centre rebuilt after the Second World War.

German news channel n-tv showed a narrow street sealed off with red-and-white police tape.

Dozens of ambulances were near the cordoned-off area. Helicopters were flying overhead.

The Kiepenkerl is not only one of the city's best-known traditional pubs, but also the emblem of the city, depicting a travelling salesman with a long pipe in his mouth and a big backpack on his back.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "deeply shocked by the terrible events in Munster".

In a statement, Mrs Merkel said "everything conceivable is being done to investigate the crime and to support the victims and their relatives. My thanks go to all the responders at the scene".

Germany's top security official said he was "dismayed by the terrible incident" and that city and regional police were working hard to work out what happened.

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6.15pm: German police said they are checking reports that other perpetrators may have fled from the van which crashed into a crowd in Munster.

5.05pm: Several people have died and dozens have been injured after a car ploughed into pedestrians in the German town of Muenster, the Federal Ministry of the Interior has said.

Included in the death toll is the driver of the car, who police report fatally shot himself after the crash.

Police said a suspicious object has been found in the van and that they are still examining what kind of an object it is and whether it is dangerous.

Police told German news agency dpa that the object was the reason why a large area around the scene was sealed off after the crash.

Muenster mayor Markus Lewe said the reason for the crash is still unclear.

The Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in a statement that he was dismayed by events and said his thoughts are with the victims and their families.

The University Hospital in Muenster is also urging people to donate blood this evening.

4pm: Several people are dead and others are injured after a car drove into a crowd in Germany, local police have said.

Police vans lined up in downtown Muenster, Germany today. Photo: dpa via AP.
Police vans lined up in downtown Muenster, Germany today. Photo: dpa via AP.

The car is reported to have driven into pedestrians in the western German city of Muenster this afternoon.

Police say the driver of the car has killed himself, according to German news agency dpa.

This was confirmed by local police, but the exact number of casualties is yet unknown.

Firefighters walk in downtown Muenster, Germany today. Photo: dpa via AP.
Firefighters walk in downtown Muenster, Germany today. Photo: dpa via AP.

Police tweeted that residents should "avoid the area near the Kiepenkerl pub", where a large-scale police operation is under way.

They also advised people to be aware of inaccurate reports on social media and to avoid speculation.

Kiepenkerl is a popular bar in the city's historic downtown area.

- Digital Desk and Press Association

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