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German police: Man intentionally drives into crowd, wounding 4

A man drove his car into a crowd in western Germany early Tuesday, wounding at least four in a possible intentional attack against foreigners, authorities said. It marks the second incident, the other in Tokyo, involving someone suspected of using a vehicle to kill people early into the new year.

Syrian, Afghan citizens among those struck in attack in Bottrop city centre

A man drove his car into a crowd of people in western Germany early Tuesday, wounding at least four in what appears to have been an intentional attack against foreigners, authorities said.

The 50-year-old driver of a silver Mercedes first attempted to hit a group of people in the city of Bottrop shortly after midnight, but the pedestrians were able to jump out of the way, Muenster police said.

Police block a road in Bottrop, Germany, on Tuesday. A man has been arrested after plowing his car into a crowd, injuring at least four, in what police say may have been intentional attack. (Marcel Kusch/dpa/Associated Press)

The suspect, a German man, then drove into the centre of Bottrop where he slammed his car into a crowd. Police said those hit included Syrian and Afghan citizens, and some were seriously injured.

The driver then sped off toward the nearby city of Essen, where he tried and failed to hit people waiting at a bus stop before being arrested by police on suspicion of attempted homicide.

It marks the second incident involving someone suspected of using a vehicle to try to kill people early into the New Year. The other, also early Tuesday, occurred in downtown Tokyo when a minivan slammed into pedestrians during New Year's Eve celebrations, wounding eight. 

The driver, whose name wasn't released, made anti-foreigner comments during his arrest and there were indications he suffered from mental illness, police said.

"The man had the clear intention to kill foreigners," Herbert Reul, the top security official in North Rhine-Westphalia state, was quoted as saying by the German news agency dpa.

It's not the first time that a vehicle has been used as an apparent weapon in Germany.

In April, a German man drove a van into a crowd in Muenster, killing four people and injuring dozens. The driver, who had sought psychological help in the weeks preceding the attack, then killed himself.

On Dec. 19, 2016, a Tunisian man ploughed a truck into a busy Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group. The driver, who fled the scene, was later killed in a shootout with police in Italy.

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