A motorist driving a Mercedes-Benz slammed into a crowd at a carnival parade in the German town of Volkmarsen, injuring dozens of people including numerous children, police said.
Eyewitnesses told investigators the motorist appeared to deliberately drive into the crowd, a police spokesman told NBC News.
“People were coming toward me, crying,” local county commissioner Reinhard Kubat told German media. “There were mainly injured children in the street, but also older people. Children came up to me and said it sounded like ‘Plop, plop, plop’ whenever the car ran over a person.”
The suspect, a 29-year-old German citizen from Volkmarsen, was among the 20 to 30 people being treated for injuries sustained in the crash, local officials said in a statement.
The most severely injured were transported to area hospitals while others were being treated at a makeshift hospital the rescue workers rigged up in the town’s pharmacy, a police spokesman said.
Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported that forensic experts were poring over a silver Mercedes station wagon with local license plates that had come to a halt on a sidewalk. The front windshield was smashed, the hood was dented, and its hazard lights were blinking.
Around the car, fragments of carnival costumes and floats littered the ground.
No motive has been determined, but the incident came less than a week after a man fatally shot 11 people, including himself, in the city of Hanau. It was one of the worst racist attacks in Germany since World War II.
Police canceled other Carnival celebrations in the state of Hesse, which is where Volkmarsen is located, as a precaution. And Chancellor Angela Merkel sent well-wishes to those injured in the crash.
“This is a terrible act committed against people who simply wanted to celebrate Carnival,” said Peter Beuth, the interior minister for the state of Hesse.
Volkmarsen, which has a population of about 7,000, is around 150 miles north of both Frankfurt and Hanau.
Germany’s deadliest terror attack in recent history happened in 2016 when a jihadist hijacked a truck, murdered the Polish driver, and roared into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin, killing a dozen people and injuring scores more.
The attacker, a Tunisian who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group, was killed four days later in a shootout with Italian police.
In the aftermath of the Christmas market rampage, police across Germany tightened security at public events.
Angerer reported from Munich, Germany, Elbaum from London, and Siemaszko from New York City.