World & Nation

Vehicles plow into New Year’s crowds in Germany and Japan, injuring at least 13

In attacks early Tuesday in Germany and Japan, drivers plowed vehicles into pedestrians, injuring at least five in the small western German town of Bottrop and eight in Tokyo.

In Bottrop, the 50-year-old driver of a silver Mercedes, a German man, was arrested after his car slammed into a crowd. Police said those hit included Syrian and Afghan citizens, and some were seriously injured.

The driver then sped off toward the nearby city of Essen, where he tried and failed to hit people waiting at a bus stop, police said. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted homicide.

The driver, whose name wasn’t released, made anti-foreigner comments during his arrest and there were indications he suffered from mental illness, police said.

“The man had the clear intention to kill foreigners,” Herbert Reul, the top security official in North Rhine-Westphalia state, was quoted as saying by the German news agency DPA.

In Tokyo early Tuesday, a minivan slammed into pedestrians on a street where people had gathered for New Year’s festivities in downtown Tokyo, injuring eight, police said.

The van’s driver, Kazuhiro Kusakabe, 21, was arrested and being questioned on suspicion that he intentionally tried to kill people, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department said.

NHK TV video showed a small van with its entire front end smashed and officers and medical personnel rushing to the scene.

A ninth person was injured after Kusakabe got out of the van and punched him, police said. His condition was not immediately known.

A large tank filled with kerosene was found in the car, police said. The suspect appeared to have planned to set his car on fire, Japanese news reports said. Police declined to comment on the reports, and said the incident remained under investigation.

The crash occurred on Takeshita Street, a road well known to tourists and pop culture and fashion fans, which runs by Meiji Shrine in the Harajuku district of Tokyo’s Shibuya ward.