A truck ploughed into the crowd gathered in the street market near the Gedankenkirche. 12 people killed and 48 wounded. The driver was arrested. He is Afghan (or Pakistani) and is believed to have seized the vehicle killing the real driver. In Germany, a list of attacks linked to the Islamic State. Concern for the return home of "foreign fighters".
Berlin (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The German police is almost certain that last night’s attack on Christmas market in the heart of Berlin is an act of “terrorism”. At around 8 pm local time, a man drove a truck into a crowd, killing 12 people and wounding 48.
According to security forces, the truck driver is an Afghan or a Pakistani who was waiting for asylum in the country. He arrived in Germany in February as a refugee.
According to local media, the man was known for some small criminal acts (theft), but not for having links with terrorist cells.
The fatal accident happened a few steps from Gedankenkirche, in the heart of west Berlin. The truck ploughed into the market during rush hour traffic, overturning stalls, visitors and tourists. The driver tried to escape but was later arrested.
Police confirmed that there was a dead man inside the truck. Probably was the real driver of the vehicle, who had been kidnapped. Ariel Zurawski, the Polish owner of the truck, has confirmed that his driver was unreachable after 4 pm yesterday.
According to initial reports, the truck drove through the market for about fifty meters
Yesterday's attack closely resembles what happened in Nice last July 14, when a truck crashed into the crowd on the waterfront, killing 86 people.
In recent months, both Daesh (the Islamic state, IS), and al Qaeda had launched appeals to their cells to hit people using public transport.
A year ago, five days after the attacks in Paris and St Denis, the German interior minister, Thomas de Maizière had declared that "the threat in Europe as well as in Germany is serious, very serious," adding that what had happened France was "the first part of a series of coordinated attacks by the Islamic State in Europe" and that "they would not be the last".
Germany is not new to these IS related attacks. On 18 July last a young refugee of Afghan origin had injured four people with an ax on a train near Wuerzburg (Bavaria). On July 24, a Syrian refugee blew himself up in a restaurant during the Ansbach (Bavaria) music festival leaving 15 injured.
Other attacks were prevented. On October 12 last, Jaber Al-Bakr, a 22 year old Syrian, was arrested as he was about to commit an attack on a Berlin airport. His capture took place with the help of three other Syrians who neutralized him and handed him over to the police.
November 29, a 51 year old employee at the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (the internal information services) , a recent convert to Islam, was arrested. The man, a Spaniard naturalized in Germany, planned to commit an attack on the headquarters of the services in Cologne.
In Germany, as in other European countries, there are concerns over the presence of “foreign fighters” the young people who have left their country to go and fight in Syria or Iraq in the ranks of IS and who, after being trained in urban warfare, return home. In recent years at least 800 young people have travelled from Germany to the Middle East. Of these, two thirds are of German nationality.