Car Attacks In Japan And Germany Mar New Year's Celebrations

Jan 1, 2019

A dozen people have been injured in two separate car attacks, after authorities say motorists deliberately plowed through New Year's crowds celebrating in Germany and Japan just after the clock struck midnight.

In Western Germany, Münster Police say a 50-year-old man apparently set out on a rampage to kill foreigners in the first hour of 2019 in the city of Bottrop.

First he drove into a group of people who managed to leap out of the way, police said. He then headed toward the city center where he slammed his silver Mercedes into another group, injuring at least four. Syrian and Afghan nationals were among those seriously injured.

Next, the man drove to the nearby city of Essen where he tried and failed to hit people waiting at a bus stop, according to authorities. He was then placed under arrest, when police said he made "xenophobic remarks." Police said there are also signs the unidentified man is suffering from a mental illness.

And in Tokyo a 21-year-old man is under arrest after authorities say he deliberately slammed into revelers gathered in a bustling downtown district early Tuesday, hitting eight. A ninth person was hurt after the driver jumped out of his vehicle and punched him, reports The Associated Press.

The man fled on foot, but police found him shortly after in a park, according to The Japan Times. The newspaper reports the man told authorities that he had perpetrated the act "in retaliation for an execution."

It would not be the first time a vehicle was weaponized in Tokyo. In 2008, a man killed several people after driving into a crowd of pedestrians, before jumping out and stabbing people with a knife, Reuters reports.

Germany has also seen recent vehicle attacks.

In April, a van driver killed two and injured twenty after accelerating into a crowd in Münster, police said. And in 2016 in Berlin, 12 were killed and dozens were injured when a driver barreled his truck into a Christmas Market.

The worst such incident on record occurred in Nice, France, on Bastille Day, 2016, when a truck driver mowed down scores of people, killing more than 80.

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