Police assume truck intentionally drove into Christmas market in Berlin

By Updated at 2016-12-20 19:03:12 +0000

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Latest - German prosecutors release suspected Christmas market attacker
A man arrested on suspicion of killing 12 people by mowing through a Berlin Christmas market in a truck has been released, the Chief Federal Prosecutor's Office said on Tuesday.
"The investigation up to now did not yield any urgent suspicion against the accused," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.
The prosecutor's office said the suspect had made extensive statements during a police hearing, but had denied the offence.
It added it had been impossible to track the truck driver by eye-witnesses following the attack and that the investigation so far had not been able to prove that the suspect was in the truck's cab at the time of the attack.

BERLIN (Reuters) - Berlin police said on Tuesday that investigators assume the driver of a truck that plowed into a crowd at a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring 48 others, did so intentionally in a suspected terrorist attack.

The truck crashed into people gathered around wooden huts serving mulled wine and sausages at the foot of the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church, which was left as a ruin after World War Two, in the heart of former West Berlin on Monday evening.

"Our investigators assume that the truck was deliberately steered into the crowd at the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz," police said on Twitter.

"All police measures related to the suspected terrorist attack at Breitscheidplatz are progressing at full steam and with the necessary diligence," police said.

The incident evoked memories of an attack in Nice, France in July when a Tunisian-born man drove a 19-tonne truck along the beach front, mowing down people who had gathered to watch the fireworks on Bastille Day, killing 86 people. That attack was claimed by Islamic State.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere had previously said there were indications that the incident in Berlin was an attack.

Police said that the man found dead in the truck was a Polish citizen but added he was not in control of the vehicle. The nationality of the suspected driver, who fled the crash scene and was later arrested, was unclear, they said.

German media cited local security sources as saying that there was evidence suggesting the arrested suspect was from Afghanistan or Pakistan and had entered Germany in February as a refugee.

Berlin police are investigating leads that the truck had been stolen from a construction site in Poland. They have taken the truck for a forensic examination.


By Michelle Martin | BERLIN
(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Michael Perry)

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