BERLIN (Reuters) - A car with slogans scrawled on its sides crashed into the gate of the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday and police arrested the driver, a Reuters witness said.
Reuters pictures from the scene showed police inspecting the estate car at the gate with the words “Stop Globalisation Politics” written in white on its right side and “You damn killers of children and old people” on the other.
“The Chancellor, other members of the government and people working in the Chancellery were not in danger at any time,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said, adding that the incident had caused only minor damage.
It was not clear if Merkel was inside the building, a white post-modernist structure set across a square from the Reichstag building that houses Germany’s parliament and well set back from any main roads. Dozens of police and a fire engine attended the incident.
The driver, who appeared to be in late middle age, was taken away in a wheelchair by police.
“We are establishing if the driver deliberately drove against (the gate),” Berlin police said on Twitter. “He has been taken into custody.”
A firefighter subsequently moved the car, which had a license plate from the northwestern county of Lippe, away from the gate. Both fence and car appeared largely undamaged.
Berlin is home to an active left-wing anti-globalisation scene, whose members have sought to stop development projects by big global companies and occupied empty houses.
Merkel was scheduled host a video conference of German state premiers on Wednesday, at which an extension to the coronavirus lockdown and further steps to combat the pandemic were due to be discussed.
Europe is on high alert after suspected Islamist militants killed eight people in Paris, Nice and Vienna in recent weeks. On Tuesday, Swiss police have identified a Swiss woman who knifed a victim in the neck and grabbed another by the throat in a Lugano department store as a known jihadist.
Four years ago, a failed Tunisian asylum seeker with Islamist links, hijacked a truck then drove it into a crowded Berlin Christmas market, killing 11 more people and injuring dozens of others.
Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold and Andreas Rinke; writing by Thomas Escritt; editing by Thomas Seythal, Emma Thomasson and Philippa Fletcher
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