German police are investigating a ‘probable terrorist attack’ after a man drove a lorry into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 and injuring 48.
Germany’s Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere, said ‘many things’ pointed to a deliberate attack.
This is what we know so far:
Twelve people are now confirmed dead and 48 people have been injured.
The death toll has risen overnight from nine to 12. Forty-eight people have been confirmed injured, some seriously.
Police identified the passenger found dead in the cab of the lorry as a Polish national but did not reveal his name. The identities and nationalities of the other eleven victims are not yet known.
One suspect arrested.
A man arrested under suspicion of driving the seven-tonne truck has been named in German media reports as Naved B, a 23-year-old asylum seeker of Pakistani origin who has been living in Flughfen Tempelhof – an old airport that had been converted into a refugee centre, the Independent reports. However, no official confirmation of this has been provided at this time.
The suspect was picked up about two kilometres (1½ miles) away from the scene of the attack. Berlin’s public radio station RBB-Inforadio reported the suspect was a Pakistani citizen who entered Germany on December 31, 2015, citing an unnamed security source. This partly concurred with those in other German media, who said he came to Germany as a refugee in February 2016. Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper reported the man was known to police for minor crimes.
Welt daily also reported police raided a large shelter for asylum-seekers at Berlin’s defunct Tempelhof airport overnight – where the suspect was believed to be living. Four men are understood to have been questioned but not arrested.
Suspect may still be at large
While a suspect has been arrested the President of Berlin Police, Klaus Kandt, has claimed they are now unsure if the man arrested was the driver of the vehicle at the time of the attack.
He added that the suspect in custody had denied the offence and that the actual attacker may still be at large in the capital – armed and dangerous.
A senior police source is also reported as saying: “We have the wrong man and therefore a new situation. The true perpetrator is still armed, at large and can cause fresh damage”, while another police chief, Munch, added that the city is on high alert.
An ‘intentional’ attack.
Berlin police now say the incident was ‘intentional’ and are calling it a ‘suspected terrorist attack’. On Monday night they warned local residents to stay indoors.
The lorry carried a Polish plate.
Police said the vehicle, which had Polish number plates and belonged to Polish delivery company ARIEL Żurawski, made it as far as 80 metres into the Christmas market before it came to a halt on the pavement on one side of the market. It was carrying steel beams.
The company said the vehicle had left Poland for Berlin earlier in the day but contact with the driver was lost at around 3pm local time and the firm believed the lorry may have been hijacked. Berlin police said they suspected the truck was stolen from a construction site in Poland.
The company’s transport manager, Lukasz Wasik, said the driver had been transporting Thyssen steel products from Italy to Berlin.
He told AFP:
The company where he was supposed to unload the products in Berlin was not able to receive them and told him to return on Tuesday morning. They told him to wait in Berlin somewhere.
The dead man in the passenger seat was Polish.
Berlin police have said the man in the passenger seat is a Polish national.
Ariel Zurawski, the owner of the lorry, told Polish television his 37-year-old cousin had initially been driving the truck but he believed it had been hijacked.
I can say, hand on heart, that the man who drove into those people in the centre of Berlin was not my driver.
This is my cousin. I’ve known him since birth. I have faith in him, this is not the man I know, they have done something to him.
He said he believed the dead man found inside the cab of the lorry was his cousin.