Berlin Car Blast Investigated as Targeted Killing, Police Say

  • Victim was 43-year-old Turkish man with criminal links
  • Bombing closed part of busy thoroughfare in western Berlin

Police are investigating a Berlin car blast that killed the driver as a targeted homicide, saying there’s no indication the bombing was an act of terrorism.

Authorities said the 43-year-old man who died was a Turkish citizen with links to drug rings and other organized crime.

Homicide investigators blocked off a section of Bismarckstrasse, a major thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants, after the VW Passat station wagon exploded at around 8 a.m. local on Tuesday. The incident took place in the residential Charlottenburg district not far from the Deutsche Oper, one of the city’s three opera houses.

Police at the site in Berlin on March 15.

Photographer: Michael Sohn/AP Photo

A photo posted on the Berlin police department’s Twitter feed showed the vehicle surrounded by debris in the middle of the street with its doors open and windows blown out, with no damage visible to surrounding buildings or parked automobiles. The vehicle exploded while moving, traveling another 100 meters (330 feet) before colliding with a parked car, police said.

Investigators believe the blast was caused by an explosive device and initially urged people to stay off balconies in buildings along the street, according to the feed. Around noon, police gave residents the all-clear after explosives experts inspected the wreckage.

“There’s no indication of a terrorist background,” Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin prosecutors, said by phone.

Yunus Ozkan said he was driving to school when two cars in front of him braked suddenly, followed by an explosion and smoke cloud.

"I stopped my car, I was scared,” the 18-year-old student said near the scene of the incident. “I thought the whole street would explode.” 

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