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Driver Crashes Car Into Gate Outside Angela Merkel’s Office

BERLIN — A driver in a station wagon with white hand-painted letters crashed into a gate outside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office on Wednesday morning, but did not get past the barrier and was then detained.

Although the driver’s motive was unclear, the incident bore similarities to another crash outside Ms. Merkel’s office more than six years ago. The police said that a 54-year-old man was in custody over Wednesday’s crash.

The police tweeted that security measures had worked, adding that at no point were Ms. Merkel or other government workers in danger. Hartmut Paeth, a spokesman for the Berlin police, said that officers were “in the process of clarifying with the elderly gentleman, whom we have in custody as a driver, how this situation came about.”

The message “You damned murderers of children and old people” was painted on one side of the car, while the other side read, “Stop the politics of globalization,” according to pictures of the crash site.

A similar attack took place in 2014 when a car, also adorned with hand-painted white letters, crashed into a gate outside Ms. Merkel’s office. At the time, the message on the car urged a stop to climate change.

The messages on the car on Wednesday initially raised questions over whether the action was connected to protests in past weeks over widespread restrictions to public life to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Germany.

Last week, protesters were forbidden to gather in front of the Reichstag building, a couple of hundred yards away from Ms. Merkel’s building, because the authorities feared that they could hinder or endanger lawmakers and government workers.

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