Berlin Terror Attack
Suspect Is 23-Year-Old Pakistani Man
Officials in Germany are now calling the semi-truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin a "terrorist" incident. Twelve were killed and 48 injured in the incident. Officials are questioning a man arrested in connection with the killings.
Investigators in Berlin believe a man deliberately drove a semi-truck into a crowded Christmas market on Monday night in an apparent attack that left 12 people dead and 48 injured, 18 of them seriously.
Speaking on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it had to be assumed that it was a terrorist attack. "It would be especially hard for us all to bear if it were confirmed that (the) person who committed this act was someone who sought protection and asylum," she said.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, speaking after Merkel, went a step further, saying: "We no longer have any doubt that the awful incident last night was an attack."
Several German media outlets have reported that the man detained in the incident, who is suspected of having been the driver of the truck, came to Germany via the Balkan Route and arrived in the country through the southern city of Passau. Security sources say that investigators are looking very closely at the suspect's communications data. Their hope is that the data might shed light on whether the man was "coached" from another country prior to the attack.
Foto: TOBIAS SCHWARZ/ AFP
Photo Gallery: The Day After the Catastrophe
Police arrested the suspect near Berlin's Siegessäule,or Victory Column, monument on Monday night. He is believed to have been the driver of the truck. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE, the suspect is named Naved (or Navid) B. Sources within government circles said the man is 23-year-old from Pakistan.
The sources say that he traveled to Germany on Feb. 1, 2016, and that he has held a residence permit since June 2, 2016. These details, however, are preliminary in nature because it's also possible that the suspect used forged IDs and alias names.
Polish Passenger Killed
The apparent attack was committed using a dark gray truck with Polish license plates just after 8 p.m. on Monday night. The driver veered through a 50- to 80-meter long stretch of the Christmas market at a high speed, destroying several stands. Police have also confirmed that a passenger in the truck, a Polish national, was killed, perhaps having been shot prior to the attack on the Christmas market.
A man named Ariel Z. told the Polish television station TVN 24 that the truck used in the attack belonged to his firm, a Polish shipping company. He said he had no longer been able to reach his cousin, who had been driving the truck before the incident, by phone after around 4 p.m. on Monday. He said he was certain his cousin was not the perpetrator. "Something must have been done to him," he said.
Ariel Z. said the truck had been used to transport steel construction equipment from Italy to Berlin. Because of a delay, the driver had to wait until Tuesday and had parked the truck in Berlin. But Berlin police are also pursuing suspicions that the truck was stolen from a construction site in Poland.
Following Monday's events, Berlin Mayor Michael Müller said it had been "very depressing, a shock, because we had always hoped that we wouldn't have this situation in Berlin." He added, however, that the situation was under control. The police also stated there is no indication of any further dangerous developments in the city.
That attack has shocked many around the world. United States president-elect Donald Trump called it a "horrifying terror attack" in a statement. "Innocent civilians were murdered in the streets as they prepared to celebrate the Christmas holiday."
In France, where 80 people died in a similar truck attack in Nice during Bastille Day festivities in July, President François Hollande wrote on his official Twitter account that the French people shared "solidarity and compassion with Chancellor Merkel, the German people and the families of Berlin victims." Meanwhile, Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve wrote on Twitter, "All of France is standing at Germany's side."