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2 dead, 20 injured after vehicle crashes into crowd in German city, police say

BERLIN — A delivery vehicle slammed into a crowd Saturday in an apparently deliberate attack in the German city of Muenster, killing two people and leaving 20 others injured, police said.

The driver shot and killed himself, a police spokeswoman said.

The driver was a German citizen, according to Herbert Reul, state minister for internal affairs in North Rhine-Westphalia state. Reul told reporters Saturday night that nothing as of now suggests the German driver of the vehicle that plowed through a restaurant’s open-air terrace in the German city of Muenster had a connection with radical Islam, but he said investigators are still looking at the driver’s background.

Police earlier said there were three deaths. Reul clarified later Saturday that the total included the attacker.

The attack happened in the old part of the western German city, an area popular on weekends.

The vehicle drove into a restaurant’s open terrace around 3:30 p.m. local time, according to police spokeswoman Vanessa Arlt.

Arlt said the old city remains closed, and police have asked people to avoid the city center.

Muenster, with about 300,000 people, is home to numerous universities and has a student population of about 58,000, the city government says. The city calls itself the cycling capital of Germany and says about 100,000 residents use a bike daily.

Ulrike Demmer, a spokeswoman for the German government, called news of the attack “horrible” on Twitter. “Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones,” she said.

“With dismay, I learned of the terrible incident in Muenster,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in a statement, adding, “Police in Muenster and throughout (the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia) are now working hard to investigate the matter.”

Federal authorities are in close contact with local officials, Seehofer said.

The US Embassy in Berlin also expressed its condolences in a tweet Saturday. “The US Mission in Germany has the victims and their family and friends in our thoughts and prayers,” the embassy said.

Saturday’s crash occurred on the one-year anniversary of a similar attack in Stockholm, Sweden, when a stolen beer truck struck pedestrians, killing five people.