TERRIFYING SCENE: Van ploughs into crowd in Germany
THREE people are dead and 20 injured after a mini-van sped through crowds of people sitting outside a bar and restaurant in the western German city of Munster.
German media are reporting the incident is being treated as a terror attack, but while police have confirmed it appears to be deliberate, they have not confirmed terror was the motive.
Police also said the driver of the van, which ploughed through wooden tables and chairs before stopping against a wall, shot himself dead inside the van after the attack.
The death toll of three includes the driver, German officials said.
The van ploughed into groups of people enjoying a sunny Saturday afternoon outside the popular Grossen Kiepenkerl Inn, in the narrow streets of the historic Munster old town in the North Rhine-Westphalia region.
Witnesses said it sped through the streets close to the Munster cathedral before slamming into the groups of people sitting at the tables outside on the cobbled footpath.
Three people there died, according to police. Another six of the 20 injured are in a "severe condition.''
Photographs which quickly emerged on social media show scattered chairs and tables, panicked groups of people trying to help those on the ground, and a large number of police and emergency services vehicles, including helicopters, descending on the scene.
Spiegel on-line reported a spokesman for the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Interior as saying: there was "a major situation in which there were probably some deaths and injuries".
A spokesman for Munster Police said: "There are several dead, probably including the suspect."
The bomb squad was called to the scene, and police said the situation on the ground was unclear.
"Please avoid the area around the Kiepenheuer. We're on the spot,'' local police tweeted.
Police also told German newsagency dpa a "suspicious object'' was found in the van. They did not say what it was, but said it was the reason for the large cordon around the crime scene.
A spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.''
Germany has suffered a number of terror attacks in recent years. In December 2016, failed Tunisian asylum seeker Anis Amri rammed a semi-trailer truck through a Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring another 56.
He claimed allegiance to Islamic State, who had been in regular contact with Amri. He was later killed in a shoot-out with police in Italy.
Today's incident happened on the one-year anniversary of a similar attack in Stockholm in Sweden, where five people died and 14 were injured when a small truck drove into pedestrians and crashed into a department store. Failed asylum seeker and alleged truck driver Rakhmat Akilov has been charged over the incident.