Berlin hit-and-run: one dead and nine seriously injured after a group of students were hit by a car
A car that ploughed into a crowd in Berlin has left one dead and at least twelve injured (nine of them seriously) in an incident that has raised concerns among Berliners over fears that it could be a terrorist attack. The incident occurred near Kurfürstendamm Avenue at 08.30 GMT, according to Berlin police spokesman Thilo Cablitz. The vehicle ploughed into a group of students on a shopping street in the capital and then crashed into a store window on Rankestrasse in the Charlottenburg district, where a terrorist multiple hit-and-run by a Tunisian jihadist took place in 2016. According to the local Welt newspaper, the driver is a 29-year-old German-Armenian male who is in custody. Meanwhile, dozens of heavily armed police are guarding the area.
The Bild newspaper reports that the driver ran over the pedestrians – many of them pupils at a school in Hesse, according to the Welt newspaper – after encroaching on the sidewalk and then drove off for another 200 meters. Finally, according to this version, he was blocked by passers-by who restrained him and handed him over to the police. The possibility of an accident caused by a medical emergency is also assessed. In a 2019 incident in central Berlin, an SUV crashed into a group of pedestrians and killed four people after the driver suffered an epileptic seizure. A police spokesman explained that the driver arrested this morning had received medical treatment.
The event has occurred in a busy shopping area of Berlin, next to the war-torn Gedaechtniskirche church, one of Berlin’s most famous landmarks. Images on social media show the scene of the incident with piles of smashed chairs and tables. For the time being, the police have activated the so-called “phase one”, which, according to the Welt newspaper, is triggered when major damage occurs.
Rescue and firefighting teams – including a rescue helicopter – have been rushed to the scene with some 60 personnel to attend to those affected. According to the popular daily newspaper “Bild”, the vehicle is a Renault passenger car in metallic gray and the driver is a man. Eyewitnesses said that the driver was going “very fast”.
German police have confirmed that the suspect is now in custody. It is not yet clear whether the crash was an intentional act or a traffic accident.
The incident took place near the scene of a 2016 attack, when Anis Amri, a Tunisian asylum seeker with Islamist ties, hijacked a truck, killed the driver and then crashed it into a crowded West Berlin Christmas market, killing 11 more people and injuring dozens of others.