Hunt con­tin­ues

As­sault comes at a sen­si­tive time for Merkel who is run­ning for a fourth term in 2017

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGEN­CIES in Ber­lin

Ger­man po­lice step up search for truck driver who killed 12 peo­ple at a Christ­mas mar­ket in Ber­lin.

Ger­man po­lice on Wed­nes­day stepped up their hunt for the driver of a truck that plowed through a Ber­lin Christ­mas mar­ket, in a deadly as­sault claimed by the Is­lamic State group.

Po­lice ini­tially ar­rested a 23-year-old Pak­istani asy­lum seeker, who was re­leased late on Tues­day for lack of ev­i­dence, prompt­ing fears of a killer on the loose and fur­ther rat­tling nerves in a shocked coun­try.

“We can’t rule out that the per­pe­tra­tor is on the run,” In­te­rior Min­is­ter Thomas de Maiziere said.

Twelve peo­ple were killed when the Pol­ish-reg­is­tered truck, laden with steel beams, slammed into the crowded hol­i­day mar­ket on Mon­day, smash­ing wooden stalls and crush­ing vic­tims.

Twenty-four re­mained in hos­pi­tal, 14 of whom were se­ri­ously in­jured, de Maiziere said.

The scenes in­stantly re­vived night­mar­ish mem­o­ries of the July 14 truck as­sault in the French Riviera city of Nice, where 86 peo­ple were killed by a Tu­nisian ex­trem­ist.

The IS-linked Amaq news agency said “a soldier of the Is­lamic State” car­ried out the car­nage. But there was no ev­i­dence to back the claim, nor was the per­pe­tra­tor identified.

Ger­many is part of a US-led coali­tion fight­ing IS in Iraq and Syria.

The at­tack comes at a sen­si­tive time for Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel who is run­ning for a fourth term in 2017 but has faced strong crit­i­cism over her de­ci­sion last year to open the coun­try’s borders to refugees.

Nation in mourn­ing

Merkel vis­ited the scene of the car­nage for a minute’s si­lence on Tues­day and then joined a me­mo­rial ser­vice in the ad­ja­cent Kaiser Wil­helm Me­mo­rial Church.

Mourn­ers placed flow­ers and can­dles at the site while Ger­man flags flew at half-mast.

Ber­lin’s land­mark Bran­den­burg Gate was lit in the na­tional col­ors in honor of the vic­tims, and for­eign lead­ers, led by US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, sent their con­do­lences.

Europe has been on high alert for most of 2016, with bloody ji­hadist attacks strik­ing Paris since last year and Brussels.

In Lon­don, roads in front of Buck­ing­ham Palace will be shut dur­ing the daily Chang­ing of the Guard cer­e­mony start­ing on Wed­nes­day fol­low­ing the at­tack, Bri­tish po­lice said.

The military cer­e­mony reg­u­larly brings crowds of tourists out­side the gates of Queen El­iz­a­beth II’s res­i­dence.


Po­lice of­fi­cers pa­trol in Dort­mund, Ger­many, on Tues­day. A truck ran into a crowded mar­ket in Ber­lin the evening be­fore and killed 12 peo­ple.

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