A man accused of carrying out a xenophobic car attack in Germany on New Year’s Day is in custody facing attempted murder charges.

Eight people were injured in the attack, which was carried out at four different locations in the northwest German town of Bottrop and the neighbouring city of Essen.

A 46-year-old woman was left fighting for her life after one of the attacks, and her 48-year-old husband and two daughters, aged 16 and 27, were also injured. The family is from Syria.

A four-year-old Afghan boy was also struck and his 29-year-old mother, as well as a 10-year-old Syrian girl.

A 34-year-old local man with Turkish heritage was also injured. A 50-year-old Essen man knowingly steered the car he was driving into groups of New Year’s revellers, most of them foreigners, said Herbert Reul, the interior minister of North Rhine Westphalia, the German state where the attack occurred.

“There was a clear intention from this man to kill foreigners,” Mr Reul said.

Police have so far found no indications that the suspect had any connection or affiliation with radical right-wing groups, Mr Reul told broadcaster WDR5.

It appeared the man had developed “a hatred for foreigners out of personal dismay and resentment”, Mr Reul added.

He said initial assessments indicated the man suffered from a mental illness. According to weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, the man said during questioning that he sees the presence of foreigners in Germany as a problem he wanted to solve.

The report said he suffers from schizophrenia, citing investigators’ initial findings.