A man who rammed three motorcyclists on a motorway in Berlin is being investigated for what prosecutors say was “an Islamist-motivated attack”.
Three people were seriously injured when the suspect’s car collided with motorbikes and cars on the A100 motorway shortly before 19:00 (17:00 GMT) on Tuesday evening.
Witnesses said the 30-year-old Iraqi suspect claimed to have a “dangerous object” in a box of ammunition.
Work tools were later found inside.
Police and prosecutors say the series of crashes in three separate places on the A100 near the centre of Berlin were being considered as “deliberate attacks on other road users”. Berlin prosecutor’s office spokesman Martin Steltner told reporters the man was suspected of “in effect hunting down motorcyclists”.
The attack is being investigated as having either a political or religious motive but prosecutors have not ruled out psychological issues.
“Because of the circumstances we don’t see this as a random accident,” Mr Steltner said. “Latest indications point to an Islamist-motivated attack.”
What happened on the road?
In the first incident, the suspect’s black Opel car seriously injured a motorcyclist, then drove on targeting two more, eventually ramming the third motorcyclist into the path of his car. The third motorcyclist is reportedly in a life-threatening condition.
Pictures of the car and the badly damaged motorbike in front of the bonnet gave an indication of the force of the attack on the motorcyclist, near a busy interchange on the A100 in the Tempelhof area of the German capital.
After the crashes, the man was said to have placed a metal box on the road. According to sources quoted by the Tagesspiegel website, he shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) and “Nobody come closer or else you’ll die.”
Named by German media as Samrad A, the suspect lives in refugee accommodation and reports suggest he may have been radicalised there. He is expected to face three charges of attempted murder.
Before the attack, the suspect posted pictures of his car on Facebook, along with religious phrases.
Public broadcaster ARD reported that the suspect had received psychiatric treatment in the past after making threats to kill but he was not seen as closely linked to militant Islamists.
The series of accidents on the A100 caused three hours of closures on the motorway on Tuesday, including on the central Kurfürstendamm.
The centre of Berlin was targeted in December 2016, when Islamist militant Anis Amri drove a truck into a crowded Christmas market, killing 12 people and leaving 49 others injured. Amri fled to the northern Italian city of Milan, where he was shot dead by police.
Amri, a Tunisian, had spent several years in jail in Italy.