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Car ploughs into school trip teenagers killing teacher

BERLIN (AFP) – A German-Armenian man drove into a crowd in a busy shopping district in Berlin on Wednesday, mowing down a group of teenagers and killing their teacher before crashing through a shop window.

The incident happened at around 10.30am just across from Breitscheidplatz.

At least a dozen people were injured including six who remain in a life-threatening condition, emergency services said.

It was not clear whether the crash was intentional. The driver, 29, was being questioned, police told AFP.

The silver Renault Clio with a Berlin licence plate first mounted the sidewalk on the corner of Tauentzienstrasse and Rankestrasse, hitting the group of secondary school students on a class trip, before returning to the road.

It then rammed into the shop front on Marburger Strasse about 150 to 200 metres away.

A female teacher with the group from a school in Bad Arolsen, a small town in the central German state of Hesse, was killed. A male teacher was seriously injured, the Hesse state government said in a statement.

Photo shows the car that ploughed into pedestrians and then crashed into a store in central Berlin, Germany. PHOTO: AP

The driver was briefly detained by passers-by before being handed over to police after the car smashed through the shop front, according to police.

Berlin police chief Barbara Slowik said the driver was in hospital and “at this time, we do not have conclusive evidence of a political act”. Later Wednesday, however, Berlin Interior Minister Iris Spranger said on Twitter that “according to latest information” the attack seemed to have been “committed by someone suffering from psychological problems”.

Spranger earlier denied media reports a letter of confession was found in the car, but said there were “posters with remarks about Turkey”.

However, security sources told AFP the car did not belong to the driver and cautioned that the contents of the vehicle may not be his.

Frank Vittchen, a witness at the scene, told AFP he was sitting at a fountain nearby when he “heard a big crash and then also saw a person fly through the air”. The vehicle drove “at high speed onto the pavement and didn’t brake”, he said, with its windows shattering from the impact.

“It all happened so fast,” he said.

Another witness who would only be named as F Kacan said the driver had ploughed his car into the perfume store, and “then he suddenly took off running on the street and we were able to stop him”.

The German government is “very concerned and shocked” by the “terrible incident in Berlin”, said a spokeswoman, adding that their thoughts were with the victims and their loved ones.

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