Man 'deliberately drove into motorcyclists' in Berlin terror attack

19 August 2020, 13:45

An investigator works on the scene, following several accidents on the city motorway A100 in Berlin
An investigator works on the scene, following several accidents on the city motorway A100 in Berlin. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Six people have been injured after a man deliberately drove his car into motorcycles along a stretch of motorway in Berlin in what German officials said was a terror attack.

One person is in a life-threatening condition, with two others seriously injured, after a 30-year-old Iraqi-born man allegedly drove into several vehicles on Tuesday evening.

The crashes at three different locations happened during rush hour shortly before 7pm local time and led to a complete closure of one of the main traffic arteries of Berlin.

Berlin's senator for the interior Andreas Geisel said: "According to the current state of our investigation, we assume this was an Islamist-motivated attack.

"A religiously motivated background cannot be excluded."

The suspect, who was driving a black Opel Astra, stopped on the motorway after the third crash and put an old ammunition box on the roof of his car, claiming it had explosives inside, the statement said.

The crashes at three different locations happened during rush hour shortly before 7pm local time
The crashes at three different locations happened during rush hour shortly before 7pm local time. Picture: PA

He is being investigated for three cases of attempted murder.

There were also indications that the man had mental health issues.

Several media reported that the man shouted "allahu akbar" or "God is great" as he got out of his car.

The Bild daily reported that he also shouted: "Nobody gets closer, or you will all die."

Investigators did not reveal the man's identity, as is customary in Germany, but local media identified the suspect as Sarmad D.

Mr Geisel added: "The fact that the suspect was possibly suffering from psychological problems does not make this issue any easier.

"If personal problems mix with religiously loaded ideas, this can lead to uncontrollable acts - yesterday's events have shown in a very painful way how vulnerable our society is."

Police and prosecutors said they were investigating if the suspect was linked to any terrorist group but had not found any indications of that yet.

After the man was detained, hundreds of people stuck on the motorway nearby were led away from their cars.

Specialists opened the ammunition box with a strong jet of water but found only tools inside.

Among the three severely injured people, one is in a life-threatening condition, dpa reported.

One of the three was a firefighter going home from work, Mr Geisel said.

It was not clear if he was the one who is in a life-threatening condition.

"If a car intentionally targets motorcycles, they don't have a chance," Mr Geisel said.

The incident led to long traffic jams.

The people who were led away from the site where the suspect was detained and others who were stuck on the motorway for hours were getting support from the German Red Cross, the Berlin fire department said.