BERLIN — A blast from an explosive device tore apart a moving car in a Berlin neighborhood Tuesday, killing the driver in an incident authorities believe was possibly linked to criminal gangs.
Investigators said the blast in the Charlottenburg neighborhood of western Berlin did not appear to have terrorism ties, and the driver had been previously under scrutiny for alleged connections to drug networks.
“We are investigating in the direction of organized crime, and it doesn’t look at all like a terrorist attack at this point,” said Berlin police spokesman Michael Merkle.
Images showed a gray, 4-door Volkswagen Passat, its hood crumpled and its doors bent. The vehicle was apparently in motion, traveling down the city’s Bismarck Street, when it exploded, according to Merkle.
Merkle confirmed that the driver was a 43-year-old male of “a migrant background,” but gave no further details. He said the man, according to Spiegel online, had been investigated before for alleged drug dealing.
It remained unclear, however, whether an explosion device in the car was set off on purpose or accidentally tripped.
“Our specialists are now looking into how this occurred in an extensive investigation,” Berlin police said in a tweet.
European nations including Germany have been high alert after several foiled terror plots following the November siege in Paris by Islamist extremists.
Souad Mekhennet in Tunis and Stephanie Kircher in Berlin contributed to this report.