Can technology stop another truck attack?
The attack on a Berlin Christmas market showed the devastation that can be wrought by the simple act of driving a truck into crowds, and the problems in preventing another massacre.
The attack in Germany on Monday, in which 11 people were killed by the truck in addition to the murder of the Polish driver, mirrored a militant raid in the French city of Nice in July that killed 86.
Hauliers increasingly track their vehicles in real time but security experts say the technology cannot be used to stop an attack if a lorry has been hijacked to be used as a weapon. “(Militant) groups have been shouting about this sort of attack for some time, it’s just that the Nice attack was the first really successful one we’ve seen,” said Raffaello Pantucci at the Royal United Services Institute defence and security think-tank.
“Whenever you see a successful attack you will see people trying to copy it.” From a militant’s perspective, the advantage of a lorry attack is its simplicity: a truck is not difficult to obtain and move around, as guns and explosives are, and it does not operate in an environment that can be secured, like the air industry.
“If you have security forces who are very aggressively keeping an eye on guns and on bomb-making stuff and you need to acquire a certain level of training to do these things, then it raises the threshold of launching a successful attack,” said Pantucci.
“If you are dealing with a heightened security environment you basically use what tools you have to hand.” The threat from a lorry attack can be reduced by physical deterrents such as concrete blocks and bollards, but this is harder for temporary events like Christmas markets. —Reuters