German police foil knife attack on Berlin half-marathon

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A man who killed two people after he drove a van into a crowd in Germany before taking his own life was already known to police.

Armed Police officers are seen at the scene when several people were killed and injured when a vehicle ploughed into pedestrians in Muenster, western Germany on April 7, 2018.

But "we know with high probability that it was a lone perpetrator, it was a German, not a refugee", said North Rhine-Westphalia state interior minister Herbert Reul.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung paper also says the suspect's apartment was being searched for possible explosives.

The suspect was a German citizen who had recently made a suicide attempt, according to NBC News' German partner ZDF. "And the police arrived and everyone was sent out", he said.

Berlin police were not immediately available for comment. The vehicle was registered under the suspect's name, they reported.

"I heard a loud bang, screaming. The police arrived and got everyone out of here", an employee of the restaurant hit by the terrace told NTV. "A lot of people were running away screaming".

A deputy spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ulrike Demmer, tweeted "our thoughts are with the victims and their families".

One day after a van killed multiple pedestrians in Muenster, German police appear to have thwarted a series of planned knife attacks on Sunday's Berlin half-marathon race.

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also offered his condolences.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter his thoughts were with the victims and that France shared in Germany's suffering.

Police say they're investigating witness reports that other people may have fled from the van after the incident, The Associated Press reports.

In a Berlin assault in December 2016, Tunisian asylum-seeker Anis Amri hijacked a truck and murdered its Polish driver before killing another 11 people and wounding dozens more by plowing the heavy vehicle through a Christmas market.

He was shot dead by Italian police in Milan four days later while on the run.

Saturday's ramming took place on the anniversary of a truck attack in Stockholm in which an Islamism-inspired perpetrator killed five people.

He didn't elaborate on how many Dutch were injured or how serious those injuries were.

Like other European nations, Germany remains a target for jihadist groups, in particular because of its involvement in the coalition fighting ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and its deployment in Afghanistan since 2001.

Authorities are still clueless about his motives and said they're investigating in all possible directions.