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Van crashes into crowd in Germany killing two, injuring approximately 20

The driver committed suicide after plowing into bystanders in the western German city of Muenster.
by Saphora Smith and Carolin Sri-Narayana /  / Updated 
Image: An armed Police officer and first responders are seen at the scene when several people were killed and injured when a car ploughed into pedestrians in Muenster, western Germany on April 7, 2018.
An armed Police officer and first responders are seen at the scene when several people were killed and injured when a car ploughed into pedestrians in Muenster, western Germany on April 7, 2018.Friso Gentsch / AFP - Getty Images

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LONDON — A van has crashed into a crowd of people in the western German city of Muenster, killing two and injuring approximately 20 people, police said Saturday.

The driver committed suicide inside the van, police said.

Authorities said a motive remains unclear. German police told NBC News that there is no indication that the incident is related to Islamic extremism and officials added that the investigation is ongoing. Police noted that they were not actively seeking any additional suspects, but they were looking into all eyewitness accounts.

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The suspect was a German citizen who had recently made a suicide attempt, according to NBC News' German partner ZDF. The vehicle was registered under the suspect's name, they reported.

The leading theory, according to law enforcement officials, is that the man was suicidal. They are also looking into his ties to right wing extremists.

The incident happened shortly before 3:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. ET) in the Kiepenkerl area of the city center. Muenster Police tweeted Saturday afternoon that residents should avoid the city center where a police operation is underway.

Local police said they were on the scene and emergency services were attending to the injured. They asked the public to only trust information provided by authorities. They confirmed that there was not a bomb squad on the scene.

A deputy spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ulrike Demmer, tweeted "our thoughts are with the victims and their families." She described the incident Saturday "terrible news."

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that federal authorities are maintaining close contact with local law enforcement. He shared his condolences.

"I'm shocked to find out about the terrible incident in Muenster," he said. "My thoughts are with the victims and their families and friends.

U.S. President Donald Trump was briefed on what the White House called a "horrific vehicle attack," the White House office of the press secretary said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those killed and we wish a full recovery to those injured," the statement said.

"While the German authorities have not yet announced a motive for this cowardly attack on innocent people, we condemn it regardless, and pledge any support from the United States Government that Germany may need," the White House said.

In December 2016, a truck plowed into crowds at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.

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