BERLIN: A man smashed a vehicle into busy cafe and restaurant terraces in Germany Saturday killing at least three people before shooting himself dead in front of horrified diners.
Images of the scene showed broken and upturned tables and chairs strewn across the pavement outside eateries in the centre of the picturesque medieval city of Muenster as media reports said the driver was a German national in his late 40s with a history of mental health problems and no known links to “terrorism”.
Public broadcaster ZDF said the man had recently attempted suicide.
Police in the northwestern university city did not immediately confirm the reports.
At least 20 people were injured, six of them seriously.
“There was a bang and then screaming. The police arrived and got everyone out of here,” an employee of one the cafes hardest hit by the rampage told rolling news channels N24 and NTV.
“There were a lot of people screaming. I’m angry — it’s cowardly to do something like this.”
Armed police were deployed and officers urged residents to avoid the city centre to allow investigators to get to work amid initial fears the country had suffered another extremist assault.
Germany has long braced for more violence after several attacks claimed by the Islamic State group, the bloodiest of which was a truck rampage through a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016 that left 12 people dead.
Images broadcast by German television showed police and firefighting vehicles clustered around a street in the centre of the city of 300,000 people.
“Terrible news from Muenster,” German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said in a tweet.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones.