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Tuesday 20th March 2018

German Prosecutors Probe Hijacked Truck Crash

Counterterrorism & Security

7Dnews London

Tue, 08 Oct 2019 12:28 GMT

German prosecutors on Tuesday October 8th are investigating whether a "terrorist" motive led a man to hijack a truck and smash it into a line of cars stopped at a traffic light in the city of Limburg, leaving eight people injured, AFP reported.

The federal prosecutor's office, which handles terrorism cases in Germany, stated that, as yet, it does not have jurisdiction over the case, as there are no apparent links to a terrorist attack.

Local police tweeted that extensive investigations were ongoing. "We are not ruling anything out," a spokesman for the state police force told news agency DPA. "But we call on you: don't take part in speculation!" the regional police urged in several tweets.

The crash took place on Monday evening. "Based on what we have learned and several witness accounts, the man seized control of the truck at about 5:20 p.m. (1520 GMT)," the police said after the incident.

The white articulated truck rammed into around nine cars stopped at the red light opposite the Limburg courthouse in western Hesse state, crushing them together. 

"Around nine people were slightly injured," including the driver of the stolen vehicle, who was immediately taken into custody, police said.

Media outlets identified the driver as a Syrian asylum seeker in his early 30s who arrived with the massive migrant influx to Germany in 2015. 

Public broadcaster ZDF quoted security authorities as saying they believed the incident had a "terrorist backdrop", but the prosecutor's office in Frankfurt declined to confirm this.

"There is still no confirmed information – we are still in the critical phase of the investigation," a spokesman at the Frankfurt prosecutor told AFP. He declined to confirm whether the suspect was Syrian.

When asked if it was a possible terror attack, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said there was no clear motive behind the incident. "I can't tell you at this point how this act is to be assessed," Seehofer told reporters ahead of an EU meeting in Luxembourg. 

The suspect was known to the police for drug offences and grievous bodily harm but had no apparent links to any religious groups, news agency DPA said, citing security sources. 

The original driver of the truck, who was not named, was quoted by daily Frankfurter Neue Presse (FNP) as saying a man had "dragged" him out of his lorry. "I asked him 'What do you want from me?' " he told FNP. "He didn't say a word."

The truck sped into the parked cars a few hundred metres away and came to a stop on the central reservation of a six-lane road.

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany's domestic security watchdog, warned in April of an increased risk posed by Isis fighters returning from Syria and northern Iraq.

Germany has been on the alert following several jihadist attacks claimed by Isis in recent years. The deadliest was committed in 2016 by a 23-year-old Tunisian, who killed 12 people when he stole a truck and ploughed it through a Berlin Christmas market.