Police foil planned terror knife attack at Berlin Half Marathon

It was not clear whether the incident was an attack

Photo taken on December 20, 2016 shows the Brandenburg Gate illuminated in the colors of the German national flag to mourn the victims of the Christmas market attack in Berlin, capital of Germany.

Muenster, a major university city, has about 300,000 residents and an attractive medieval city center that was rebuilt after World War II.

Notably, investigators said the 48-year-old German man, identified as Jens B.by local media, was known to police.

A court last month sentenced a man to life in prison for killing one and wounding six others with a knife in a Hamburg supermarket out of a "jihadist" motive last July.

In a joint statement with police, prosecutor Martin Botzenhardt wrote Sunday that, "as of now, we don't have any leads regarding a possible background for the deed".

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said the suspect's apartment was being searched Saturday night for possible explosives. Germany has very strict privacy laws on medical issues. They said he had expressed suicidal plans and had frequent run-ins with the law. "But he was well known to the police".

Reul said the three dead included the perpetrator.

He was previously accused of fraud and a hit-and-run as well as making threats and damaging property - but all charges were dismissed.

A 51-year-old woman from the Lueneburg area in northern Germany and a 65-year-old man from the Borken area near Muenster were killed and the perpetrator shot himself after crashing the silver-grey coloured van into the outside area of the restaurant, police said. Their names weren't given, as is customary in Germany.

Reul said two people were killed in the crash and the driver killed himself - lower than the earlier police toll of three dead plus the driver.

Police are searching four different apartments owned by the man. Police also found several gas bottles and canisters containing gasoline and bio-ethanol, but did not know yet why they were stored there.

In a statement, Merkel said "everything conceivable is being done to investigate the crime and to support the victims and their relatives".

Armin Laschet, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, where Muenster is located, visited the crash scene on Sunday.

Jens R, 49, had ties to far-right groups, but whether it played a role in the Muenster city attach is unclear, ZDF reports.

Local police said they were on the scene and emergency services were attending to the injured.

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