A driver has ploughed his car into a carnival parade in the western German town of Volkmarsen, injuring 30 people, including children.
- Police said the driver, 29, had acted deliberately but no motive was yet known
- German media said the car broke through plastic barriers and drove about 30m into the crowd
- Witnesses said the man appeared to have targeted children
Prosecutors and police said the suspect, a 29-year-old German citizen, was being treated for injuries he sustained in the incident.
Police said he had been arrested on suspicion of attempted homicide, but nothing was immediately known about his motive.
“This is a terrible day, this is a terrible deed,” said Peter Beuth, interior minister of Hesse, the western German state where Volkmarsen is located.
He said police believed the incident was intentional.
A third of those injured were children. Police spokesman Henning Hinn said 10 of the injured people were seriously hurt.
German news website HNA cited witnesses as saying the man appeared to have targeted children and had driven “at full throttle” into the crowd, which had gathered for the traditional procession ahead of the Christian season of Lent.
Police called off all carnival parades in Hesse as a precautionary measure, but said they were not aware of any danger elsewhere in Germany.
The incident came less than a week after a gunman shot nine people dead, then killed his mother and took his own life, in one of the worst racist attacks in Germany since World War II.
Carnival is hugely popular in parts of western Germany, especially in Rhineland cities such as Cologne and Duesseldorf, where festivities peak on Rose Monday with tens of thousands attending street parades featuring comical or satirical floats.
Police cars and ambulances rushed to the scene in Volkmarsen, a small town 420 kilometres west of Berlin.
“We are on the ground with a big deployment. An investigation is underway,” North Hesse police said on Twitter after the incident, which they said occurred at about 2:45pm (local time).
Police officers were seen standing next to a silver Mercedes-Benz car that appeared to have been involved.
German media said the driver deliberately broke through plastic barriers set up by police around the parade area, where 1,500 people were expected to gather.
The car drove through the crowd for about 30 metres before coming to a halt, a witness told broadcaster Hessenschau.
Police were unable to question the driver for the time being, Welt newspaper said, without elaborating.
In 2016, a Tunisian man with Islamist militant ties ploughed a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.
He was later shot dead by Italian police after he fled Germany.