German police ‘find Kalashnikov’ at killer driver’s flat and discover his van was ‘BOOBY-TRAPPED with a pistol connected to a wire’ after 48-year-old ‘with far-right links’ murders two by mowing down diners before shooting himself dead

  • Driver ploughed through crowds outside the popular Grosser Kiepenkerl bar in Münster, west Germany 
  • He shot himself dead inside the vehicle, leaving two others dead and 20 injured in the attack at 3.27pm 
  • Reports claim he was Jens Handeln, 48, a German national with psychological problems and no terror links
  • Police in the area say they are not looking for any more suspects and currently searching perpetrator’s flat 
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was ‘deeply shaken’ by the incident that has cordoned off city’s old town  

German police have reportedly found a Kalashnikov at the home of the man who ploughed a minibus into a crowd of people and shot himself dead, killing two people and injuring 20 others in Münster.

Six people are in critical condition and dozens were left injured after the vehicle was driven at high speed towards families outside the popular Grosser Kiepenkerl bar in the university city, 300 miles west of Berlin.

Terrified diners watched as the driver, named locally as Jens Handeln, 48, shot himself inside the vehicle after the attack at 3.27pm local time.

The perpetrator is believed to be a German national with ‘psychological problems’ and no links to any terrorist organisations.

Officers searching his van suspected it was booby-trapped after reportedly finding a pistol connected to a wire leading underneath the van’s floor carpeting.

Local reports claim he had been in contact with far-right groups, but was not an extremist himself.

Officers are also investigating reports that two other people were seen fleeing the van after the crash.

Dramatic pictures show an area of Münster’s old town strewn with broken tables and chairs and onlookers running for their lives.

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Police have reportedly found a Kalashnikov at the home of the man who ploughed a minibus into a crowd of people and shot himself dead (forensic investigators pictured at scene), killing two people and injuring 20 others in Münster

Police have reportedly found a Kalashnikov at the home of the man who ploughed a minibus into a crowd of people and shot himself dead (forensic investigators pictured at scene), killing two people and injuring 20 others in Münster

Forensic investigators are pictured scouring the scene of today's deadly vehicle attack in the university town of Münster

Forensic investigators are pictured scouring the scene of today’s deadly vehicle attack in the university town of Münster

German forensic experts (pictured) are scouring the scene where a man ploughed a minibus into a crowd of people and shot himself dead, killing two people and injuring 20 others in Münster, Germany

German forensic experts (pictured) are scouring the scene where a man ploughed a minibus into a crowd of people and shot himself dead, killing two people and injuring 20 others in Münster, Germany

Officers in protective clothing are pictured at the scene where a man ploughed into crowds with a van in Münster, Germany 

Officers in protective clothing are pictured at the scene where a man ploughed into crowds with a van in Münster, Germany

Armed officers are pictured patrolling the police cordon in Münster's old town where two people were killed and 20 injured 

Armed officers are pictured patrolling the police cordon in Münster’s old town where two people were killed and 20 injured

Terrified diners watched as the driver shot and killed himself inside the vehicle at 3.27pm local time. Officers are still guarding the scene 

Terrified diners watched as the driver shot and killed himself inside the vehicle at 3.27pm local time. Officers are still guarding the scene

Emergency vehicles are pictured after night fall in Münster with the scene of the attack still cordoned off 

Emergency vehicles are pictured after night fall in Münster with the scene of the attack still cordoned off

Police and fire teams worked into the night after the deadly vehicle attack at 3.27pm on Saturday in Münster

Police and fire teams worked into the night after the deadly vehicle attack at 3.27pm on Saturday in Münster

A fire engine is seen near the Grosser Kiepenkerl bar in Münster's old town where a van killed two people and injured 20 

A fire engine is seen near the Grosser Kiepenkerl bar in Münster’s old town where a van killed two people and injured 20

Broadcaster ZDF said the driver had contact with far-right extremists, but there was no evidence thus far that he was a far-right extremist himself. Pictured: investigators work into the night to uncover more about the deadly attack 

Broadcaster ZDF said the driver had contact with far-right extremists, but there was no evidence thus far that he was a far-right extremist himself. Pictured: investigators work into the night to uncover more about the deadly attack

Candles are pictured at the scene of the van attack that killed two and injured 20 in the old town of Münster on Saturday 

Candles are pictured at the scene of the van attack that killed two and injured 20 in the old town of Münster on Saturday

Tributes and candles were laid at the scene of Saturday's van attack where two people were killed and 20 injured 

Tributes and candles were laid at the scene of Saturday’s van attack where two people were killed and 20 injured

 Münster van attack: What do we know so far?

German authorities have for now ruled out a connection to Islamist terrorism after a man rammed customers on a restaurant terrace, killing two people, but much remains unclear about the incident. Here is what we know so far:

What happened?

A small van spend into a crowd of customers and staff at outdoor tables belonging to a restaurant in the historic centre of Münster in north-west Germany at 3.27pm on Saturday, killing two.

German media reported that those killed were waiters at the ‘Grosser Kiepenkerl’ restaurant not far from the city’s cathedral.

Some 20 people were wounded, around ten of them ‘seriously’, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state Herbert Reul said.

The driver stopped the van immediately after the impact, shooting himself inside the vehicle according to police.

Who was the driver?

The driver was ‘a German, and not, as has been claimed everywhere, a refugee or something like that,’ Reul said.

Matching reports from several German media outlets said the attacker was a man aged around 48 with psychological problems.

Television news reported that he had recently attempted suicide and made known that he planned a more spectacular attempt.

Several reports pointed to a past of petty crime and drug dealing.

The man was employed as an industrial product designer and struggled with problems at work.

Broadcaster ZDF said he had known connections with far-right organisations, while new website Spiegel Online reported an assault rifle was found at his Muenster apartment close to the scene of the crime.

Investigators found a ‘suspicious object’ in the van, which Die Welt newspaper reported was a pistol connected to a wire leading underneath the van’s floor carpeting.

Suspecting a booby trap, the police called in bomb disposal experts.

What motivated the attacker?

There is so far no clear indication of the attacker’s motive. But authorities said they had ruled out an Islamist background to the act.

Germany has been on especially high alert for such terrorist attacks since a Tunisian asylum seeker rammed a truck into crowds at a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016.

‘There is no indication at the moment that there is any Islamist connection,’ state interior minister Reul said.

Police will attempt to determine whether the driver wanted to commit a ‘murder-suicide’, taking other people with him in the process of killing himself.

Did the perpetrator act alone?

Police initially said witnesses had spotted potential accomplices exiting the van immediately after the attack. But there is so far no evidence to back up this theory.

Police locked down a wide area around the scene of the attack immediately afterwards, but gradually opened some roads up to traffic again as evening drew in.

Source: AFP

Separate footage from the city shows armed police shouting at a suspect to ‘get down’, but it is not yet known who he is.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was ‘deeply shaken’ by today’s event.

‘Everything possible is now being done to clarify the facts and to support the victims and their relatives,’ she said.

The van crashed into people sitting in front of Münster’s famous Grosser Kiepenkerl bar, which is popular with tourists, in the spring sunshine this afternoon.

Police and fire rescue teams quickly descended on the old town area, as SWAT teams prepared to raid the 48-year-old driver’s home.

State Interior Minister Herbet Reuel spoke in the city in the hours after the attack, confirming two people died, revising the earlier police figure of three.

He said German police believe the driver was a German citizen and hit out at misinformation being spread online, claiming a refugee was responsible.

He stressed that the investigation was at an early stage but said ‘at the moment, nothing speaks for there being any Islamist background’.

A man shot himself dead after ploughing a minibus (pictured) into a crowd of people in the German city of Münster, killing two people and leaving 20 injured on Saturday afternoon

A man shot himself dead after ploughing a minibus (pictured) into a crowd of people in the German city of Münster, killing two people and leaving 20 injured on Saturday afternoon

A van (pictured bottom right) ploughed into crowds of people in Münster, west Germany killing two people and injuring dozens more today

A van (pictured bottom right) ploughed into crowds of people in Münster, west Germany killing two people and injuring dozens more today

German police are pictured in the city of Münster this afternoon after a van drove into a crowd of people killing two and injuring dozens more 

German police are pictured in the city of Münster this afternoon after a van drove into a crowd of people killing two and injuring dozens more

Armed police were seen wearing balaclavas in the immediate aftermath of the attack in Münster, west Germany today 

Armed police were seen wearing balaclavas in the immediate aftermath of the attack in Münster, west Germany today

The perpetrator behind today's attack (police pictured surveying the scene) is believed to be a middle-aged German man with 'psychological problems' and no links to any terrorist organisations

The perpetrator behind today’s attack (police pictured surveying the scene) is believed to be a middle-aged German man with ‘psychological problems’ and no links to any terrorist organisations

Members of German special forces are pictured outside the apartment of the driver, 48, who killed two people in Münster

Members of German special forces are pictured outside the apartment of the driver, 48, who killed two people in Münster

Officers (pictured) are currently searching the driver's apartment for explosives and also investigating reports that two other people were seen fleeing the van after the crash

Officers (pictured) are currently searching the driver’s apartment for explosives and also investigating reports that two other people were seen fleeing the van after the crash

Armed officers swooped the scene outside Münster's famous Kiepenkerl bar and statue today after the deadly attack 

Armed officers swooped the scene outside Münster’s famous Kiepenkerl bar and statue today after the deadly attack

‘We have to wait, and we are investigating in all directions,’ Mr Reul said, adding ‘[he] wilfully drove into a crowd of people.’

Broadcaster ZDF said he had contact with far-right extremists, but there was no evidence thus far that he was a far-right extremist himself.

Münster’s university hospital has called on citizens to donate blood to help them treat the injured.

There were more police than usual in the city to monitor a protest by Kurdish demonstrators near to the scene of the incident.

German police are checking the vehicle for explosives, with a ‘suspicious object’ understood to have been found inside.

Police said they are investigating witness reports that two other perpetrators may have fled from the van.

A video emerged on social media from an unidentified area of the city showing armed police shouting at a man to ‘get down’ in English.

SWAT teams are pictured preparing to raid the dead driver's apartment in the city of Münster after he drove into crowds 

SWAT teams are pictured preparing to raid the dead driver’s apartment in the city of Münster after he drove into crowds

Police (pictured) are currently searching the driver's apartment for explosives and also investigating reports that two other people were seen fleeing the van after the crash

Police (pictured) are currently searching the driver’s apartment for explosives and also investigating reports that two other people were seen fleeing the van after the crash

The suspect is seen putting his hands in the air and dropping to the ground before officers with guns surround him. His identity and link to the incident is not yet known.

Police spokesman Peter Nuessmeyer said he could not confirm German media reports that the perpetrator was a middle-aged German man suffering from psychological issues.

Another police spokesman, Andreas Bode, said it was too early to speculate about his motive.

The Kurdish protest took place near the city’s main train station, only a short distance away from the Kiepenkerl square, just before the attack.

Matt Scoville, 23, who lives in Münster, told MailOnline locals were speculating about two suspects on the run.

He said: ‘I saw the 30 or 40 police officers and their vans around 3.15pm and wondered what was going on.

‘But after I’d gone inside I started to get messages from friends saying ‘don’t go out, there’s been a car bomb and two people are on the run.’ I was terrified.’

Restaurant chairs and tables are seen strewn across the area outside Münster's famous Kiepenkerl statue and pub

Restaurant chairs and tables are seen strewn across the area outside Münster’s famous Kiepenkerl statue and pub

Several police vans could be seen in the centre of the picturesque medieval city of 300,000 people as the carnage unfolded

Several police vans could be seen in the centre of the picturesque medieval city of 300,000 people as the carnage unfolded

Police cordons are in place as a wide-scale investigation descends on the city. Officers say they are not looking for any more suspects and the 'danger appears to be over' 

Police cordons are in place as a wide-scale investigation descends on the city. Officers say they are not looking for any more suspects and the ‘danger appears to be over’

Meanwhile Münster’s Lord Mayor Markus Lewe said his sympathies were with victims and their families.

He said: ‘The whole of Münster mourns this terrible event, our sympathy goes out to the relatives of those who were killed, and we wish the injured people fast and speedy recovery.’

The crash comes on the anniversary of the Stockholm attack, when five people were killed and 14 injured after a stolen beer truck drove into a crowd in the Swedish capital last year.

A spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel says ‘our thoughts are with the victims and their families’ who were killed and injured when a vehicle crashed into a crowd in the western German city of Münster.

Spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer on Twitter called the crash Saturday ‘terrible news.’

‘I am shocked by the news from Münster,’ said Andrea Nahles, parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats, junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition.

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

Six people are in critical condition and dozens more are injured after the vehicle was driven at high speed towards families outside a traditional German restaurant in the university town, 300 miles west of Berlin

Six people are in critical condition and dozens more are injured after the vehicle was driven at high speed towards families outside a traditional German restaurant in the university town, 300 miles west of Berlin

Emergency vehicles were scrambled to the scene after reports of the attack spread through the city in western Germany 

Emergency vehicles were scrambled to the scene after reports of the attack spread through the city in western Germany

It is not yet known if the incident is terror related, but it comes after a wave of deadly vehicle attacks across western Europe

It is not yet known if the incident is terror related, but it comes after a wave of deadly vehicle attacks across western Europe

Rescuers are pictured waiting for more information on the deadly incident in Münster's old town this afternoon 

Rescuers are pictured waiting for more information on the deadly incident in Münster’s old town this afternoon

Firefighters pictured walking in downtown Münster, Germany today after several people were killed by a van 

Firefighters pictured walking in downtown Münster, Germany today after several people were killed by a van

Police (pictured) are investigating reports that two other people were seen fleeing the van after the crash

Police (pictured) are investigating reports that two other people were seen fleeing the van after the crash

Fire engines are pictured ready to back up police after a van crashed into crowds outside restaurants in Münster

Fire engines are pictured ready to back up police after a van crashed into crowds outside restaurants in Münster

It is not yet known if the incident is terror related, but it comes after a wave of deadly vehicle attacks across western Europe

It is not yet known if the incident is terror related, but it comes after a wave of deadly vehicle attacks across western Europe

Münster is approximately 300 miles west of Berlin in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany

Münster is approximately 300 miles west of Berlin in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany

Vehicle attacks to hit Europe in the last four years

German police have not yet revealed a motive for the attack in Münster, but it comes after a wave of deadly vehicle attacks in western Europe.

Here MailOnline looks back at similar incidents across the continent over the last four years:

April 7, 2018 – A man drives a van into a group of people sitting outside a restaurant in the old city centre of Münster in Germany, killing several of them before taking his own life, police say, a year to the day after the Stockholm truck attack.

March 23, 2018 – A gunman kills three people in southwestern France after holding up a car, firing on police and taking hostages in a supermarket, screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’. Security forces storm the building and kill him.

Aug 17, 2017 – A van ploughs into crowds in the heart of Barcelona, killing at least 13 people, a regional official says, in what police said they were treating as a terrorist attack.

June 3, 2017 – Three attackers ram a van into pedestrians on London Bridge then stab revellers in nearby bars, killing eight people and injuring at least 48. Islamic State says its militants are responsible.

May 22, 2017 – A suicide bomber kills 22 children and adults and wounds 59 at a packed concert hall in the English city of Manchester, as crowds began leaving a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande.

April 7, 2017 – A truck drives into a crowd on a shopping street and crashes into a department store in central Stockholm, killing five people and wounding 15 in what police call a terrorist attack.

March 22, 2017 – An attacker stabs a policeman close to the British parliament in London after a car ploughs into pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge. Six people die, including the assailant and the policeman he stabbed, and at least 20 are injured in what police call a ‘marauding terrorist attack’.

Dec 19, 2016 – A truck ploughs into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says authorities are assuming it was a terrorist attack.

July 26, 2016 – Two attackers kill a priest with a blade and seriously wound another hostage in a church in northern France before being shot dead by French police. French President Francois Hollande says the two hostage-takers had pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

July 24, 2016 – A Syrian man wounds 15 people when he blows himself up outside a music festival in Ansbach in southern Germany. Islamic State claims responsibility.

July 22, 2016 – An 18-year-old German-Iranian gunman apparently acting alone kills at least nine people in Munich. The teenager had no Islamist ties but was obsessed with mass killings. The attack was carried out on the fifth anniversary of twin attacks by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik that killed 77 people.

July 18, 2016 – A 17-year-old Afghan refugee wielding an axe and a knife attacks passengers on a train in southern Germany, severely wounding four, before being shot dead by police. Islamic State claims responsibility.

July 14, 2016 – A gunman drives a heavy truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice, killing 86 people and injuring scores more in an attack claimed by Islamic State. The attacker is identified as a Tunisian-born Frenchman.

June 14, 2016 – A Frenchman of Moroccan origin stabs a police commander to death outside his home in a Paris suburb and kills his partner, who also worked for the police. The attacker told police negotiators during a siege that he was answering an appeal by Islamic State.

March 22, 2016 – Three Islamic State suicide bombers, all Belgian nationals, blow themselves up at Brussels airport and in a metro train in the Belgian capital, killing 32 people. Police find links with attacks in Paris the previous November.

Nov 13, 2015 – Paris is rocked by multiple, near simultaneous gun-and-bomb attacks on entertainment sites around the city, in which 130 people die and 368 are wounded. Islamic State claims responsibility. Two of the 10 known perpetrators were Belgian citizens and three others were French.

Jan 7-9, 2015 – Two Islamist militants break into an editorial meeting of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 and rake it with bullets, killing 17. Another militant kills a policewoman the next day and takes hostages at a supermarket on Jan. 9, killing four before police shoot him dead.

May 24, 2014 – Four people are killed in a shooting at the Jewish Museum in central Brussels. The attacker was French national Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, who was subsequently arrested in Marseille, France. Extradited, he is awaiting trial in Belgium.

 

 

‘My thoughts are with the victims and their relatives,’ she added. ‘I hope that our authorities can quickly clarify the background to this incident and wish the local forces much strength for their work.’

The DPA news agency said a car had hit bystanders in the western city.

Police confirmed there had been casualties but did not immediately say what happened.

‘There are deaths and injured. Please avoid the area, we are on scene,’ the regional police service said on Twitter.

The German news agency DPA reports that a large-scale police operation is underway and that much of the area is cordoned off to the public.

Restaurant chairs and tables are pictured strewn across the square in the old town area of the city, as horrified witnesses run for cover.

Police have urged people to avoid ‘speculation’ about the incident as it is not yet known if it is terror related.

Interior Minister Herbert Reul is pictured making a statement on today's attack in the old town area of Münster 

Interior Minister Herbert Reul is pictured making a statement on today’s attack in the old town area of Münster

 

Where is the city of Münster?

It is understood a vehicle ploughed into a crowded pub near the Kiepenkerl statue in the old town

It is understood a vehicle ploughed into a crowded pub near the Kiepenkerl statue in the old town

Münster is a city of around 300,000 in North Rhine-Westphalia, to the west of Germany near the border with the Netherlands.

Around a fifth of the population are students, and there are four universities within the city.  It is also known as the bicycle capital of Germany.

The city is famous for its Friedenssaal (peace hall) in the city hall, where some treaties within the Peace of Westphalia were signed back in October 1648.

These treaties ended both the Thirty Years War, the war between the Habsburgs and their Catholic allies and various Protestant powers including Sweden, and the Eighty Years War between Spain and the Dutch Republic.

Police vans flooded downtown Münster as they rushed to deal with the situation and emergency services warned people to stay away from the area

Police vans flooded downtown Münster as they rushed to deal with the situation and emergency services warned people to stay away from the area

Ambulances also rushed to the scene following reports that at least 30 people were injured in the incident

Ambulances also rushed to the scene following reports that at least 30 people were injured in the incident

Münster is in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany, 300 miles west of Berlin 

Münster is in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany, 300 miles west of Berlin

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