Berlin car bomb killing suspected to be gangland hit

Man (43) murdered in city centre when explosive device detonated as he drove car

German police said they suspect an explosive device caused a car to explode and kill the driver on a road in central Berlin on Tuesday (March 15) morning. spokesman said one man, the driver, had been killed in the explosion. Video: Reuters


Berlin police believe an organised crime feud was the motive behind a car bomb explosion that killed a 43-year-old man in the western city centre on Tuesday morning.

The massive explosion took place at about 8am during rush hour traffic on the Bismarck Straße near the Deutsche Oper. The explosion left debris scattered over the street.

After bomb experts examined the wreck of the grey Volkswagen Passat estate car, police said they did not believe the incident had a terrorist background.

“The car veered right out of its lane, collided with a parked car and came to a halt in the middle of the lane,” said a police officer.

The 43-year-old driver died at the scene. There were no other casualties and only one other car, a Porsche, was damaged.

After the attack, police urged residents to stay indoors, warning on Twitter: “Our investigators assume it was an explosive device that led the vehicle to explode.”

Investigators declined to say whether the bomb was triggered remotely or by a timer. Dozens of shops near the scene of the explosion were closed, while police halted traffic on the U2 underground line in one direction.

By 11.30am local time, the bomb team had concluded their work and gave the all-clear to residents.

“I was in the living room and heard a ‘boom’, thinking it must be a bomb or an accident, but could only see one car,” said Heidi Schuler, a local woman.

According to police reports the driver was known to them and a member of the organised crime scene, with previous convictions for drugs, gambling and counterfeit money offences.

The man was not the owner of the car, police say, so were unable to say yet whether he or another person were the target of the attack.