April 8, 2018 / 6:54 AM / 6 months ago

German police try to work out motive for Muenster attack

BERLIN, April 8 (Reuters) - German investigators were trying to work out why a man drove a camper van into a group of people sitting outside a restaurant in the western university city of Muenster on Saturday, killing two people before shooting himself dead.

The vehicle ploughed into people seated at tables outside the Grosser Kiepenkerl eatery, a popular destination for tourists in the city’s old town.

Forensic police combed the scene on Sunday after investigators named the victims as a 51-year-old woman from the Lueneburg area in northern Germany and a 65-year-old man from the Borken area near Muenster.

“According to the current state of the investigation, the driver is probably a 48-year-old man from Munich,” senior public prosecutor Martin Botzenhardt said in a joint statement with Muenster police.

“So far there are no indications of a possible background for the crime. The investigations are being conducted at full speed and on all fronts,” he added.

The perpetrator shot himself after crashing the silver-grey coloured van into the outside area of the restaurant, police said.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported in its online edition that the perpetrator was Jens R., 48, who resided some 2 km (1.2 miles) from the crime scene.

Broadcaster ZDF said police were searching his apartment and that he had contact with far-right extremists, but there was no evidence thus far that he was a far-right extremist himself.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung said the man had psychological problems. The Interior Ministry in North Rhine-Westphalia would neither confirm nor deny the report.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement she was “deeply shaken”. On Saturday evening, the White House issued a statement sending U.S. President Donald Trump’s “thoughts and prayers” to the families of those killed.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “All my thoughts are with the victims of the attack in Muenster. France shares in Germany’s suffering”.

Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Susan Fenton

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