Trier: Five die as car ploughs through Germany pedestrian zone

Nine-week-old baby girl killed after car ploughed through a pedestrian area in the western German city of Trier

A car has ploughed through a pedestrian area in the western German city of Trier, killing five people including a nine-week-old baby girl, police say. 

The driver, a 51-year-old local man, was arrested. The prosecutor said the suspect had drunk a significant amount of alcohol. 

Authorities said they were not working on the assumption that the incident was politically or religiously motivated. The city's mayor described the scene as "horrible". 

Witnesses said people screamed in panic and some were thrown in the air by an SUV travelling at high speed in Trier's Brotstrasse and Simeonstrasse streets towards the city's famous Roman gate, the Porta Nigra. 

The incident happened at around 1:45pm, and the suspect drove for 1km "hitting people at random on his way" before being stopped by a police car, Trier police spokesman Karl-Peter Jochem said earlier. 

The victims were three women, aged 25, 52 and 73. Police said the 45-year-old father of the baby was also killed. His wife and one-year-old son were injured and admitted to hospital. 

Footage posted on social media appeared to show the presumed driver being held by several officers next to the damaged car. Police have been questioning the suspect, who was alone, and has been identified by German media as Bernd W. 

Initial indications "suggest that psychiatric problems possibly played a role", prosecutor Peter Fritzen told reporters. The man did not have a criminal record, had no fixed address and was living in the car, which had been lent to him by someone else. 

The incident has shocked Trier, a medieval city of around 110,000 people and 720km west of Berlin, near the border with Luxembourg. A Christmas market that is usually held in the area was cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but shops were open. 

Bollards that would usually be in place to protect the pedestrianised area because of the Christmas market were therefore not put up. 

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