German Police Search For Motive In Deadly Van Attack In Muenster

Ambulances stand in downtown Muenster Germany Saturday April

Ambulances stand in downtown Muenster Germany Saturday April

BERLIN (AP) - Six people were detained in connection with what police and prosecutors allege was a plan to carry out an extremist attack on Berlin's half-marathon Sunday, German authorities said.

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 daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung said police had found an 18-page missive in his Pirna home in which he wrote of his anguish due to serious problems with his parents, "repeated nervous breakdowns" and "explosions of aggression" as well as a botched medical operation.

Herbert Reul, the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, where Muenster is located, said the driver of the gray van was a German citizen.

"With dismay, I learned of the bad incident in Muenster", Seehofer said in a statement Saturday, adding, "Police in Muenster and throughout (the state of North Rhine-Westphalia) are now working hard to investigate the matter". They said the main suspect was planning to killed participants and spectators with knives. Officers had reportedly found two sharpened knives during a raid on the man's apartment in the west of the city.

Kenyan Erick Kiptanui clocked a course record of 58 minutes, 42 seconds, equalling the fastest time in the world this year, the race's organisers said on their website.

"The crime scene investigators are checking out the crime scene, trying to identify, investigate and secure traces".

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Martin Wiech, who said he had studied in Muenster, told Der Spiegel he had driven there to go shopping and was now unable to return to his auto.

What made the driver plow into a crowd of people in Muenster on Saturday remains unclear.

. "It is one of the most peaceful cities I know", he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement she was "deeply shaken" after the attack.

In a statement tweeted by a German government spokeswoman, Merkel said "everything is now being done to clarify the act and support the victims and their families".

The presidents of Russian Federation and France, Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron, as well as Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sent their condolences. "France shares in Germany's suffering".

In Germany's worst jihadist attack to date, Amri hijacked a truck and murdered its Polish driver before killing another 11 people and wounding dozens more by ploughing the heavy vehicle through the crowd. Muenster prosecutor Elke Adomeit told reporters on Sunday that there had been three court hearings involving the deceased van driver in the city, as well as one in the town of Arnsberg, in 2015 and 2016, Die Welt reported.

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