BERLIN — A day after a bizarre series of crashes on a Berlin autobahn left several people injured, the city’s public prosecutor’s office announced on Wednesday that it was investigating whether what happened was part of an Islamist terrorist attack.
“According to the current state of investigation, these were targeted attacks, especially on motorcyclists, with sometimes serious consequences,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
The police say a 30-year-old Iraqi man appeared to cause three separate crashes by ramming his car into several motorcycles on different sections of the Berlin inner-city highway during the Tuesday evening rush hour.
Berlin has endured an Islamist vehicle attack before: In 2016, an assailant plowed a stolen truck through a popular Christmas market in the city, leaving 12 people dead. But since then, most terrorist attacks in Germany — including one in the west of the country that left 10 people dead six months ago — have been carried out by right-wing extremists.
On Tuesday, six people were wounded, three severely, according to the Berlin fire department.
After the last crash, the man stopped the car, placed a box on its roof and a prayer mat on the road and started praying, according to the Tagesspiegel, the city’s daily newspaper. A police officer who happened to be nearby arrested him despite the fact that the man threatened violence, suggesting that a metal box contained a bomb, the newspaper said.
After opening the box, the police found it contained only tools, and the autobahn was reopened.
A judge is expected to rule on Wednesday whether the man should stay in custody on charges of attempted murder.
While the prosecutor’s office said it had not found any links between the suspect and known terrorist groups, it said there were indications he had a history of mental illness.