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Witnesses say a man deliberately drove a Mercedes into a crowd at a carnival in Volkmarsen, Germany, on Monday, injuring “dozens” of people including small children, according to local reports.
The driver has been arrested, police said, but no motive has so far been determined.
Around 2:30 p.m. local time, a silver Mercedes station wagon drove into a group of people in the pre-Lenten carnival, going about 100 feet before it stopped, eyewitnesses told public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk. The driver, who was taken into custody by police, was described by eyewitnesses as being between 20 and 30 years old. Police later said he is a 29-year-old German citizen.
Police indicated that dozens were injured in the incident, Hessischer Rundfunk reported, with some serious injuries. No deaths have been reported thus far. An investigation is ongoing, but police have said the attack was deliberate, according to Hessischer Rundfunk.
"Whether it is a medical emergency or a technical failure or, in the worst case, there is an intention behind it, we cannot say anything about that," a police spokesman in the nearby city of Kassel told reporters.
The incident took place during a carnival for Rosenmontag (Rose Monday), a popular German Mardi Gras-like carnival that takes place in the leadup to the Christian period of Lent, which starts Wednesday. The town of Volkmarsen is located in the state of Hesse, roughly 80 miles east of Dortmund. Though the population of the town is just under 7,000, around 1,500 were expected for today’s procession, according to local media.
As a result of the incident, festivities for the carnival were canceled for the rest of the day. Although there was no information available about further threats, residents should “avoid large crowds,” police said in a tweet.
The tragedy comes just less than a week after far-right sympathizer Tobias Rathjen shot and killed nine people at two hookah bars in the town of Hana before turning the gun on himself and his 72-year old mother. In the days since, leaders of the German far-right party AfD have sought to downplay the gunman’s political motivations.
Cover: 2__4 February 2020, Hessen, Volkmarsen: The scene of the accident in Volksmarsen with the car that is said to have crashed into a carnival parade. According to initial reports, several people have been injured, according to the police. The driver had been arrested and the police were on the scene with a large contingent. Photo by: Uwe Zucchi/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images