German behind Muenster van attack may have had mental health issues

There are no indications of a political motive, rather the motive and origins (of the crime) lie within the perpetrator himself, Muenster police chief said on Sunday.

world Updated: Apr 08, 2018 18:25 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse, Münster
German van attack,Mental health,Muenster
German interior minister Horst Seehofer (second right) and state leader in North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet (right) pay their respect at a memorial shift at the square where a man ploughed with a van into an open-air restaurant, killing two people a day earlier in Muenster, western Germany, on Sunday. (AFP photo)

German police on Sunday said they did not see an extremist motive behind a ramming attack with a van that claimed two lives and placed the driver’s mental health issues in the foreground.

There are “no indications of a political motive,” said Hajo Kuhlisch, chief of police in western city Muenster where the attack took place.

Rather, “the motive and origins (of the crime) lie within the perpetrator himself,” he added.

Far-right opponents of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy suggested in the immediate aftermath of the attack it might be an Islamist act of terror, while some media reported the killer had links to right-wing extremist organisations.

So far the 48-year-old German who killed two and injured 20 -- some seriously -- with a van before shooting himself has been identified only as Jens R.

Prosecutors said he had faced allegations of threats, property damage and fraud in 2015 and 2016, all of which were dropped.

A source close to the investigation told AFP that incidents related to the perpetrator’s mental health had affected his family since 2015, and that he said in late March he wanted to commit suicide.

Broadcaster NTV reported he had threatened family members with an axe in 2014 and 2015.

Despite investigators’ increased certainty about the perpetrator’s mental health, “it will take a few more hours and days” before the case is fully cleared up, North Rhine-Westphalia state interior minister Herbert Reul said Sunday.

First Published: Apr 08, 2018 18:23 IST