Berlin’s terror truck attack
12 die and 48 injured when a lorry ploughed into a Xmas market
In light of the terror attack in Berlin on 19th December, the UK police are reviewing security at Christmas events across the country.
At least 12 people were killed and about 50 injured when a truck ploughed into a Christmas market in the city on Monday evening, which was near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church near Berlin's Zoo station.
18 people sustained ‘very serious’ injuries.
Doctors treating patients at the scene and in clinics across Berlin reported a high number of fractures and internal injuries, including bleeding and damaged organs.
A witness at the scene, Mike Fox, told the Associated Press that the truck missed him by about three metres as it drove into the market, tearing through tables and market stalls.
“It was definitely deliberate,” said the tourist from Birmingham. He said he helped people who appeared to have broken limbs and that others were trapped under Christmas stands.
German police believe the person or people responsible for the attack could still be ‘at large’ after admitting they might have arrested the wrong man.
Holger Münch, head of the federal criminal police, said: “We need to work on the assumption that an armed perpetrator is still on the loose. As a result of this we are on high alert.”
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has visited the scene. She said: “It would be particularly hard to bear for all of us if it was confirmed that a person committed this crime who asked for protection and asylum in Germany.”
Chief prosecutor Peter Frank said that investigators were assuming that it could have been a terrorist because of the number of people killed and similarities with an attack in Nice in July.
He did, however, stress that nothing was proven.
Police said a man found dead inside the truck, identified as a Polish citizen, was not the person who drove it into the market. He was stabbed and shot with a pistol but the weapons have not been found.
Berlin police said they were investigating if the truck was stolen from a construction site in Poland.
The Polish company that owns the truck said its 37-year-old driver, who was transporting steel beams, had been due to take a break in Berlin but had not been heard from since Monday afternoon.
The White House condemned what it said ‘appears to have been a terrorist attack’. The president-elect, Donald Trump, called it a ‘horrifying terror attack’, blaming ‘Isis and other Islamist terrorists [who] continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship’.
Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, said the attack was ‘savage in its cynicism’.
The rightwing populist party Alternative for Germany claimed the country’s Christian tradition was under attack.
Party leader Frauke Petry said: “The Christmas market was not an accidental target. It is not only an attack on our freedom and our way of life, but on our Christian tradition. Germany is a country which is divided over the immigration question.”
Ukip’s former leader Nigel Farage said: “Events like these will be the Merkel legacy.”
Who is the prime suspect?
Anis Amri, a 24-year-old rejected asylum-seeker from Tunisia, became the most wanted man in Europe on Wednesday after police named him as the prime suspect for the terror truck attack.
Germany offered a €100,000 (£84,000) reward for information leading to the capture of the man.
He was well-known to police and had long been identified as a potential terrorist. He was supposed to be under surveillance, but had somehow managed to give his watchers the slip just weeks before he is now believed to have driven a lorry into a crowded Christmas market.
“This is a suspect, not necessarily the perpetrator,” Thomas de Maiziere, the German interior minister, said. “We are still investigating in all directions.”
Germany has not so far experienced any mass-casualty attacks by Islamic extremists, but has been increasingly wary since two attacks by asylum-seekers in the summer that were claimed by Daesh.
- 5 people were wounded in an axe rampage on a train near Wuerzburg and 15 in a bombing outside a bar in Ansbach, both in the southern state of Bavaria. Both attackers were killed.
- Those attacks, and two others unrelated to Islamic extremism in the same week-long period, contributed to tensions in Germany over the arrival last year of 890,000 migrants.