Four killed, including baby, as car ploughs into pedestrian zone in Germany

Car detects pedestrians in Trier

Four people including a nine-month-old baby were killed and up to 15 injured on Tuesday when a speeding car ploughed into a pedestrian area in the western German city of Trier in what authorities said appeared to be a deliberate act.

Witnesses said people screamed in panic and some were thrown into the air by the car as it crashed through the shopping zone.

"We have arrested one person, one vehicle has been secured," police said, adding that a 51-year-old German suspect from the Trier area had been overpowered within minutes of the incident and was now being questioned, police said.

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Car hits pedestrians in Germany
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Car hits pedestrians in Germany
This image grab taken from a video obtained from Steil-TV shows police near a destroyed pram at the scene where a car drove into pedestrians the center of Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1, 2020. - At least two people were killed and several injured when a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on December 1, 2020, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested. (Photo by STEIL-TV / STEIL-TV / AFP) (Photo by STEIL-TV/STEIL-TV/AFP via Getty Images)
Police officers guard evidence at the scene of an incident in Trier, Germany, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. German police say people have been killed and several others injured in the southwestern German city of Trier when a car drove into a pedestrian zone. Trier police tweeted that the driver had been arrested and the vehicle impounded.(AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Police officers are pictured at the scene of an incident in the city of Trier, Germany, Tuesday, Dec 1, 2020. German police say two people have been killed and several others injured in the southwestern German city of Trier when a car drove into a pedestrian zone. Trier police tweeted that the driver had been arrested and the vehicle impounded. (AP Photo/Sebastian Schmitz, lokalo.de)
Rescue workers and onlookers stand near the scene after a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the city of Trier in Germany, Tuesday, Dec 1, 2020. German police say two people have been killed and several others injured in the southwestern German city of Trier when a car drove into a pedestrian zone. Trier police tweeted that the driver had been arrested and the vehicle impounded. (AP Photo/Sebastian Schmitz, lokalo.de)
01 December 2020, Rhineland-Palatinate, Trier: Police and THW forces block the access to the pedestrian zone. In the afternoon a man had driven a car through the pedestrian zone of Trier, injuring and killing people. Photo: Oliver Dietze/dpa (Photo by Oliver Dietze/picture alliance via Getty Images)
01 December 2020, Rhineland-Palatinate, Trier: Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) stands in front of the entrance to the pedestrian zone for an interview. In the afternoon, a man had driven a car through the pedestrian zone of Trier, injuring and killing people. Photo: Oliver Dietze/dpa (Photo by Oliver Dietze/picture alliance via Getty Images)
01 December 2020, Rhineland-Palatinate, Trier: Minister of the Interior Roger Lewentz (SPD) and the Lord Mayor of Trier Wolfram Leibe (SPD) will hold a press conference in the evening. In the afternoon, a man had driven a car through the pedestrian zone of Trier, injuring and killing people. Photo: Oliver Dietze/dpa (Photo by Oliver Dietze/picture alliance via Getty Images)
TRIER, GERMANY - DECEMBER 01: A police car stands in Simeonstrasse pedestrian shopping street following an apparent motorist attack that so far has left two people dead, including one child, and approximately 10 injured on December 1, 2020 in Trier, Germany. According to witnesses a man driving an SUV drove through Simeonstrasse at high speed, hitting people apparently at random. Police have arrested the man and so far made no statement as to the man's motive. (Photo by Andreas Schlichter/Getty Images)
TRIER, GERMANY - DECEMBER 01: A police car stands in Simeonstrasse pedestrian shopping street following an apparent motorist attack that so far has left two people dead, including one child, and approximately 10 injured on December 1, 2020 in Trier, Germany. According to witnesses a man driving an SUV drove through Simeonstrasse at high speed, hitting people apparently at random. Police have arrested the man and so far made no statement as to the man's motive. (Photo by Andreas Schlichter/Getty Images)
TRIER, GERMANY - DECEMBER 01: A police car stands in Simeonstrasse pedestrian shopping street following an apparent motorist attack that so far has left two people dead, including one child, and approximately 10 injured on December 1, 2020 in Trier, Germany. According to witnesses a man driving an SUV drove through Simeonstrasse at high speed, hitting people apparently at random. Police have arrested the man and so far made no statement as to the man's motive. (Photo by Andreas Schlichter/Getty Images)
TRIER, GERMANY - DECEMBER 01: A police car stands in Simeonstrasse pedestrian shopping street following an apparent motorist attack that so far has left two people dead, including one child, and approximately 10 injured on December 1, 2020 in Trier, Germany. According to witnesses a man driving an SUV drove through Simeonstrasse at high speed, hitting people apparently at random. Police have arrested the man and so far made no statement as to the man's motive. (Photo by Andreas Schlichter/Getty Images)
This image grab taken from a video obtained from Steil-TV shows police and emergency workers at the scene where a car drove into pedestrians in the center of Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1, 2020. - At least two people were killed and several injured when a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on December 1, 2020, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested. (Photo by STEIL-TV / STEIL-TV / AFP) (Photo by STEIL-TV/STEIL-TV/AFP via Getty Images)
This image grab taken from a video obtained from Steil-TV shows police and emergency workers at the scene where a car drove into pedestrians in the center of Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1, 2020. - At least two people were killed and several injured when a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on December 1, 2020, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested. (Photo by STEIL-TV / various sources / AFP) (Photo by STEIL-TV/AFP via Getty Images)
This image grab taken from a video obtained from Steil-TV shows police and emergency workers at the scene where a car drove into pedestrians in the center of Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1, 2020. - At least two people were killed and several injured when a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on December 1, 2020, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested. (Photo by STEIL-TV / various sources / AFP) (Photo by STEIL-TV/AFP via Getty Images)
This image grab taken from a video obtained from Steil-TV shows police and emergency workers at the scene where a car drove into pedestrians in the center of Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1, 2020. - At least two people were killed and several injured when a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on December 1, 2020, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested. (Photo by STEIL-TV / various sources / AFP) (Photo by STEIL-TV/AFP via Getty Images)
This image grab taken from a video obtained from Steil-TV shows police and emergency workers at the scene where a car drove into pedestrians in the center of Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1, 2020. - At least two people were killed and several injured when a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on December 1, 2020, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested. (Photo by STEIL-TV / various sources / AFP) (Photo by STEIL-TV/AFP via Getty Images)
This image grab taken from a video obtained from Steil-TV shows destruction at the scene where a car drove into pedestrians in the center of Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1, 2020. - At least two people were killed and several injured when a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on December 1, 2020, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested. (Photo by STEIL-TV / STEIL-TV / AFP) (Photo by STEIL-TV/STEIL-TV/AFP via Getty Images)
This image grab taken from a video obtained from Steil-TV shows police covering victims in blankets at the scene where a car drove into pedestrians in the center of Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1, 2020. - At least two people were killed and several injured when a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on December 1, 2020, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested. (Photo by STEIL-TV / various sources / AFP) (Photo by STEIL-TV/AFP via Getty Images)
This image grab taken from a video obtained from Steil-TV shows police standing near a destroyed pram at one of the scenes where a car drove into pedestrians the center of Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1, 2020. - At least two people were killed and several injured when a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on December 1, 2020, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested. (Photo by STEIL-TV / STEIL-TV / AFP) (Photo by STEIL-TV/STEIL-TV/AFP via Getty Images)
Police stand near Christmas illuminations and a car of the Technical Relief Service (THW) as they secure a street near one of the scenes where a car drove into pedestrians the center of Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1, 2020. - At least two people were killed and several injured when a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on December 1, 2020, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested. (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP) (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP via Getty Images)
01 December 2020, Rhineland-Palatinate, Trier: A police car in the evening is parked in the Christmas-lit Simeonstrasse. In the afternoon a man had driven a car through the pedestrian zone of Trier, injuring and killing people in the process. Photo: Harald Tittel/dpa (Photo by Harald Tittel/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Police officers and forensic investigators and an ambulance work at one of the scenes where a car drove into pedestrians in Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1, 2020. - At least two people were killed and several injured when a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on December 1, 2020, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested. (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP) (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Police and ambulances work at the scene where a car drove into pedestrians in Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1, 2020. - At least two people were killed and several injured when a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on December 1, 2020, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested. (Photo by Jean-Christophe VERHAEGEN / AFP) (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Police look on as rescuers push an injured person into an ambulance at the scene where a car drove into pedestrians in Trier, southwestern Germany, on December 1, 2020. - At least two people were killed and several injured when a car drove into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier on December 1, 2020, police said, adding that the driver had been arrested. (Photo by Sebastian SCHMITZ / various sources / AFP) (Photo by SEBASTIAN SCHMITZ/AFP via Getty Images)
01 December 2020, Rhineland-Palatinate, Trier: Police and emergency services are on duty near the pedestrian zone, where a car has hit several people and, according to initial findings, has fatally injured two of them. Photo: Harald Tittel/dpa (Photo by Harald Tittel/picture alliance via Getty Images)
01 December 2020, Rhineland-Palatinate, Trier: Police, fire brigade and rescue teams are on duty near the pedestrian zone where a car has hit several people and, according to initial findings, has fatally injured two of them. Photo: Harald Tittel/dpa (Photo by Harald Tittel/picture alliance via Getty Images)
dpatop - 01 December 2020, Rhineland-Palatinate, Trier: Police forces are on duty near the pedestrian zone where a car has hit several people and, according to initial findings, has fatally injured two of them. Photo: Harald Tittel/dpa (Photo by Harald Tittel/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Prosecutor Peter Fritzen later told a news conference the suspect had drunk a significant amount of alcohol, and authorities were not working on the assumption that there was any Islamist militant motive to the incident.

Trier Mayor Wolfram Leibe said: "It looks as if we are talking about a suspect with mental issues, but we should not pass premature judgement."

The interior minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Roger Lewentz, said four people had been killed, and four severely hurt people were among the injured. He said the route taken by the driver indicated he had carried out the act on purpose.

Mayor Leibe said a nine-month-old baby was among the dead.

"We have a driver who ran amok in the city," he told public broadcaster SWR earlier.

"I just walked through the city centre and it was just horrible. There is a trainer lying on the ground, and the girl it belongs to is dead," he said. He told broadcaster N-TV that people who saw the incident were "totally traumatised" and the street "looks a bit like after a war".

The incident shocked residents of Germany's oldest town, founded by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago.

The Trierischer Volksfreund quoted a witness as saying a Range Rover was driving at high speed and people had been thrown through the air. It said the car had Trier plates.

TRUCK ATTACK

It reported that people screamed in panic when the car drove through the street.

Officers were scouring the area in search of evidence, backed by police dressed in flak jackets and carrying sub-machine guns. On the streets, Christmas lights twinkled incongruously.

Germany has tightened security on pedestrian zones across the country since a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market in 2016 that killed 12 people and injured dozens.

In October 2019, a man opened fire on a synagogue in the city of Halle. After failing to get into the building he went on a rampage outside, killing two people.

In February this year a racist gunman killed nine migrants in Hanau near Frankfurt before killing his mother and himself. Only about a week later, a local man ploughed his car into a carnival parade in the town of Volkmarsen, injuring 61.

Germany has tightened measures to fight the coronavirus, with bars and restaurants closed, but shops and schools are still open.

"What happened in Trier is shocking. Our thoughts are with the relatives of the victims, with the numerous injured and with everyone who is currently on duty to care for the victims," Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, said on Twitter.

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