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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Berlin police probe terrorism link in Christmas market killings

Tue Dec 20, 2016 | 3:53 AM EST Berlin police probe terrorism link in Christmas market killings Reuters Berlin Christmas market scene "shocking" - rescuer (00:47) Replay Photographs capture shooting death of Russian ambassador Truck plows into crowd at Berlin Christmas market, nine dead Several killed, some dozens injured in German market attack U.S. sees China returning drone soon 6h ago | 00:47 Berlin Christmas market scene "shocking" - rescuer Berlin police probe terrorism link in Christmas...X By Michelle Martin | BERLIN Investigators suspect the driver of a truck that plowed into a crowd at a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring 48, did so intentionally in a terrorist attack, police said on Tuesday. The truck crashed into people gathered on Monday evening around wooden huts serving mulled wine and sausages at the foot of the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church - left as a ruin after World War Two - in the heart of former West Berlin. "Our investigators are working on the assumption that the truck was deliberately steered into the crowd at the Christmas market...," 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." It 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 was claimed by Islamic State. Bild newspaper cited security sources as saying the suspect in the Berlin incident was a 23-year-old from Pakistan named Naved B. who arrived in Germany a year ago. In legal cases German officials routinely issue an initial for the surname rather than the full name. On Tuesday morning the black truck was still visible at the site of the incident and a few candles and roses had been laid by the entrance to a nearby station. Flowers were being laid in the center of the nearby Kurfuerstendamm, a prestigious shopping street. One woman was crying as she stopped by the flowers. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere had previously said there were indications that the incident was an attack. Police said a Polish man was found dead in the truck 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. ADVERTISEMENT . Justice Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter that the federal prosecutor had launched preliminary proceedings into the incident. RAID ON REFUGEE CENTER Local broadcaster rbb cited security sources as saying the arrested truck driver came to Germany via Passau, a city on the Austrian border, on Dec. 31, 2015. It cited the sources as saying the man was born on Jan. 1, 1993 in Pakistan and was already known to police for minor offences. ‹ Rescue workers stand near the Christmas market in Berlin, Germany December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski 25/25 Rescue workers stand near the Christmas market in Berlin, Germany December 19, 2016. Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski A candle with a sticker reading ''I am Berlin - For more humanity and compassion'' near the scene where a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital last night in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016.. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 1/25 A candle with a sticker reading ''I am Berlin - For more humanity and compassion'' near the scene where a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital last night in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016.. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch Rescue workers tow the truck which ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital last night in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016.. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 2/25 Rescue workers tow the truck which ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital last night in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016.. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch Police stand in front of the truck which ploughed last night into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke 3/25 Police stand in front of the truck which ploughed last night into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke Police stand in front of the truck which ploughed last night into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke 4/25 Police stand in front of the truck which ploughed last night into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke Police stand in front of the truck which ploughed last night into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke 5/25 Police stand in front of the truck which ploughed last night into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke Rescue workers inspect the crashed truck at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke 6/25 Rescue workers inspect the crashed truck at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke The damaged windscreen of the truck which ploughed into a crowded Christmas market last night is pictured in the German capital Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke 7/25 The damaged windscreen of the truck which ploughed into a crowded Christmas market last night is pictured in the German capital Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke Rescue workers and police inspect the crashed truck at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke 8/25 Rescue workers and police inspect the crashed truck at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke Police walks past the truck which ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital last night in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke 9/25 Police walks past the truck which ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital last night in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke Rescue workers are seen at the scene where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 10/25 Rescue workers are seen at the scene where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch Fire fighters walk in front of the truck which ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital last night in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke 11/25 Fire fighters walk in front of the truck which ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital last night in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke The empty Christmas market where a truck ploughed through a crowd on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski 12/25 The empty Christmas market where a truck ploughed through a crowd on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski A tow truck operates at the scene where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski 13/25 A tow truck operates at the scene where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski Police and emergency workers stand next to a crashed truck at the site of an accident at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 14/25 Police and emergency workers stand next to a crashed truck at the site of an accident at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch A general view shows the site where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016 REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski 15/25 A general view shows the site where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016 Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski A candle is burning on a German national flag near the site where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Berlin Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016 REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 16/25 A candle is burning on a German national flag near the site where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Berlin Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016 Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch A German police officer looks into the truck. REUTERS/Christian Mang 17/25 A German police officer looks into the truck. Reuters/Christian Mang Police secures the area at the site of an accident at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 18/25 Police secures the area at the site of an accident at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch Police and emergency workers are at the site of an accident at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 19/25 Police and emergency workers are at the site of an accident at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch A fire engine is parked outside a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016 after a truck ploughed into the crowded Christmas market in the German capital. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski 20/25 A fire engine is parked outside a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016 after a truck ploughed into the crowded Christmas market in the German capital. Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski Fire fighters stand beside a fire engine near the Christmas market in Berlin, Germany December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski 21/25 Fire fighters stand beside a fire engine near the Christmas market in Berlin, Germany December 19, 2016. Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski Police stand guard in Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016 after a truck ploughed into the crowded Christmas market in the German capital. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski 22/25 Police stand guard in Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016 after a truck ploughed into the crowded Christmas market in the German capital. Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski Police work at the site of an accident at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 23/25 Police work at the site of an accident at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch Police and emergency workers are at the site of an accident at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 24/25 Police and emergency workers are at the site of an accident at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch Rescue workers stand near the Christmas market in Berlin, Germany December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski 25/25 Rescue workers stand near the Christmas market in Berlin, Germany December 19, 2016. Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski A candle with a sticker reading ''I am Berlin - For more humanity and compassion'' near the scene where a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital last night in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016.. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch 1/25 A candle with a sticker reading ''I am Berlin - For more humanity and compassion'' near the scene where a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital last night in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016.. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch › German newspaper Die Welt said police special forces stormed a hangar at Berlin's defunct Tempelhof airport housing a refugee accommodation center at around 4 a.m. (0300 GMT). It said, without citing its sources, that the arrested man was registered there. A refugee there who gave his name only as Ahmed told Reuters security guards had told him there was a raid at around 4 a.m. Prosecutors declined to immediately comment on the report. If a migrant link is confirmed, it could further sour sentiment toward asylum seekers in Germany, where more than a million people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere have arrived this year and last. The record influx has hit Chancellor Angela Merkel's popularity ratings and boosted support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD). Senior AfD member Marcus Pretzell blamed Merkel for the attack on Twitter. Related Coverage German Christmas market suspect is 23-year-old from Pakistan: Bild Police storm Berlin's former airport used as refugee home: media Mulled wine, Christmas cheer precedes carnage in Berlin Trump condemns Berlin attack, says things 'only getting worse' Manfred Weber, head of the center-right European People's Party, said: "It's not an attack on a country; it's an attack on our way of life, on the free society in which we are allowed to live." Stephan Mayer, a senior member of the Christian Social Union - the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats, told broadcaster ZDF it was necessary to ensure that there were no copycat attacks. Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said on ORF radio on Tuesday that he had told the heads of Austria's regional police forces to intensify surveillance measures, although there was no concrete evidence that an incident was about to happen. Sobotka also called for biometric and fingerprint checks to be introduced along the Balkan route to better control foreign jihadist fighters' movements. 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. Flags will be hung at half-mast around Germany on Tuesday. (Reporting by Michelle Martin, Caroline Copley, Joseph Nasr, Emma Thomasson and Paul Carrel in Berlin; additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla in Vienna; editing by John Stonestreet)

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