NEW: There's no evidence of terrorism in connection with the blast, police say
NEW: The victim was a 43-year-old man; it's not known if he was the intended target
The explosion happened Tuesday morning in a residential area of western Berlin
An explosion – described as “murder using a car bomb” by a local prosecutor – rocked a residential area of western Berlin Tuesday morning, killing a 43-year-old Turkish citizen.
The blast occurred around 8 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) along the main thoroughfare of Bismarckstrasse in Charlottenburg, a large, predominantly residential western Berlin neighborhood.
The man was driving the Volkswagen Passat when it exploded, though it wasn’t immediately clear if the bomb went off inside or outside the car.
He managed to escape the damaged car, only to bleed to death nearby on the street, according to Berlin district attorney Martin Steltner.
Members of a Berlin police homicide unit – but not counter-terrorism investigators – converged on the scene. Police have said there’s no indication this was a terrorist act.
Nor has it been confirmed that the Turkish victim was the bomb’s intended target. According to Steltner, the 43-year-old man had been linked to crimes involving illegal drugs, forged currency and gambling until 2008, after which he went quiet.
Bomb squad finds no other explosives
About five years ago, a string of arson attacks in the German capital were first concentrated in Charlottenburg before spreading to other parts of the city, police spokesman Guido Busch said at the time.
Authorities characterized those crimes – with at least 50 cars torched in one week in August 2011 – as “politically motivated.” Dieter Wiefelsputz, an expert with Germany’s Social Democratic Party, characterized those incidents as “vandalism (that does not) cross the line to terrorism.”
After Tuesday’s blast, debris littered the street around the four-door car, as seen in a picture tweeted by Berlin police.
The vehicle’s front end looked badly damaged and its windows – including the front windshield – were blown out.
Authorities at one point urged people nearby go indoors, close their windows and not to linger on balconies as a Berlin police bomb squad approached the Passat.
But, a short time later, police gave an all-clear after determining no more explosives were in the car.