German police say at least four people have been injured after a man intentionally drove into a crowd of people in western Germany in what appears to have been an attack directed at foreigners.

Muenster police said the 50-year-old driver of a Mercedes drove into a crowd in the center of Bottrop shortly after midnight Tuesday. Two other attempts by the driver to drive into other people failed.

Police said those hit by the car included Syrian and Afghan citizens, and some were seriously injured. The driver fled toward the nearby city of Essen before being stopped and arrested by police.

Authorities said the driver made anti-foreigner comments during his arrest and the attack is presumed to have been premeditated. Police said there are indications the suspect suffered from mental illness.