A car has driven at high speed into a pedestrian zone in the southwestern German city of Trier, killing at least two people and seriously injuring 15 others before being stopped by police.
The driver, identified as a 51-year-old German man from the area, was arrested at the scene and the vehicle was impounded, Trier police spokesman Karl-Peter Jochem said, according to news agency dpa.
Footage from the scene showed people outside a shop apparently helping someone on the ground lying among scattered debris.
“It was simply terrible,” Mayor Wolfram Leibe told n-tv television after visiting the site.
Mr Leibe said the perpetrator “drove through the pedestrian zone, clearly at high speed, and killed several people and injured several, some of them seriously”.
The driver is being questioned by police, he said.
“I don’t want to speculate, but all of us are asking ourselves … what drives a person to do something like this?” Mr Leibe said.
“Of course I don’t have an answer to this question.”
Police and rescue crews were on the scene and authorities told people to avoid the city centre.
The area was being kept shut down until at least Wednesday morning local time (Wednesday night AEDT) for police to collect evidence, but there was no longer any danger, Mr Leibe said.
“There are shocking and harrowing images that reach us after the alleged rampage from Trier. Our thoughts now are with the injured and the families of the dead,” the official Twitter account for Prime Minister Malu Dreyer’s Social Democratic Party posted.
Ms Dreyer is on her way to the scene and expected to speak shortly.
In a video posted by a local media outlet purportedly showing the arrest, police could be seen pinning a man down on the sidewalk next to a car with Trier licence plates. The authenticity of the video could not immediately be verified and it was taken down shortly after police tweeted a request that people do not share photos and videos of the scene.
Steffen Seibert, a government spokesperson and press office chief, called the incident “staggering”.
“Our thoughts are with the relatives of the victims, with the numerous injured and with everyone who is currently on duty to care for those affected,” he wrote on Twitter.
Trier is about 200km west of Frankfurt, near the border with Luxembourg. The city of about 110,000 people is known for its Roman gate, the Porta Nigra, which is near the scene of the crash, and as the birthplace of Karl Marx.