Vehicle crashes into gate of Merkel’s office in Berlin

Car crashes into gate of Angela Merkel’s office in Berlin

Car with 'stop the globalisation policies' written on it hits gate outside Merkel’s offices

A vehicle with slogans scrawled on its sides crashed into the gate of the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday, a Reuters witness said.

Police spokesman Thilo Cablitz told reporters the 54-year-old driver was detained at the scene after driving at a slow speed into the gate and was being questioned.

The Berlin police said they and Germany's federal police were now determining whether the driver had deliberately crashed into the gate.

"The Chancellor, other members of the government and people working in the chancellery were not in danger at any time", government spokesman Steffen Seibert said, adding that the incident had caused only minor damage. On the other it said "Stop the globalization policies".

According to Germany's Interior Ministry, the same man had already been involved in an nearly identical incident in 2014. The auto carried a slogan condemning climate change and a 48-year-old man was taken into custody.

The holidays will be an "important" but "difficult" time for the Germans, Merkel said, announcing the government's decision as she called on the nation to make "one more" push in the battle against the virus.

Merkel said the measures introduced in early November, including limits on private gatherings and the closure of restaurants, leisure and cultural facilities, can not be lifted given current infection rates.

It was not clear if Dr Merkel was inside the building, a white post-modernist structure set across a square from the Reichstag building that houses Germany's Parliament and well set back from any main roads.

The Volkswagen station wagon hit the gate to the German chancellery at about 10 am.

It had number plates from the Lippe area in western Germany and was driven away by the Berlin fire service showing little sign of damage beyond a few scratches.

However, Merkel was due to meet with state governors today to discuss extending health guidelines in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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