The driver collides with a car outside Angela Merkel’s office

BERLIN – A combi driver with white hand-painted letters crashed into a gate in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office on Wednesday morning, but did not get past the railing and was arrested.

Although the driver’s motive was not clear, the case showed a resemblance to another accident outside Ms. Merkel’s office more than six years ago. Police said a 54-year-old man was in custody over Wednesday’s accident.

Police tweeted that security measures were working, adding that Ms. Merkel or other government workers were not in danger at any moment. Hartmut Paeth, a spokesman for the Berlin police, said officials were “clarifying the elderly gentleman we are holding in custody as to how this situation has developed”.

According to pictures of the scene of the accident, the message “You damn killers and old people” was painted on one side of the car, while on the other side, “Stop the politics of globalization” was described.

A similar attack occurred in 2014 when a car, also decorated with hand-painted white letters, crashed into a gate in front of Ms. Merkel’s office. A message sent to the car at the time urged that climate change be stopped.

Messages arriving at the car on Wednesday initially raised questions about whether the action is linked to protests in recent weeks over widespread restrictions on public life to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Germany.

Last week, protesters gathered in front of the Reichstag building, a few hundred meters from Ms Merkel’s building, because they feared they could obstruct or endanger lawmakers and government workers.