EUROPE-WIDE HUNT FOR MAN WANTED OVER BERLIN ATTACK
German authorities have offered a reward of up to €100,000 (£84,000) for information leading to the arrest of the Tunisian man wanted over the deadly lorry attack on a Christmas market in Berlin.
Federal prosecutors described 24-year-old Anis Amri as being of average height and weight, with black hair and brown eyes.
Prosecutors warned that the suspect could be “armed and dangerous”, and urged members of the public to notify police if they see him.
Twelve people were killed and 48 others were injured – 12 seriously – when a lorry ploughed into the popular Berlin market on Monday evening. Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility.
Amri has ties to Islamic extremists and has used at least six different names and three different nationalities, investigators said.
A German security official said authorities had considered him a possible terror threat previously and had been trying to deport him after his asylum application was rejected this summer.
Germany had issued a notice to other European countries overnight seeking the arrest of the 24-year-old, but initially held off on going public so as not to jeopardise the manhunt.
After German media published photos of him and a partial name, federal prosecutors went public with the information.
A separate European arrest warrant from Germany obtained by reporters states that Amri has used at least six different names under three different nationalities.
Earlier, German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere stressed: “This is a suspect, not necessarily the perpetrator.
“We are still investigating in all directions.”
Mr de Maiziere would not give further details on the suspect, but domestic affairs committee members said he had spent time in predeportation detention.
Germany’s chief federal prosecutor told MPs “this Tunisian is a solid lead, his wallet was found in the cab of the truck, but that it’s not clear that he was also the perpetrator”, according to Burkhard Lischka of the Social Democrats, the junior governing party.
Stephan Mayer, a senior MP with Germany’s governing conservatives, said the wanted man was Tunisian, in his early 20s and considered part of the “Salafist-Islamist scene” by authorities.
The suspect apparently arrived in Germany in July 2015 and has lived in three German regions since February, mostly in Berlin, said Ralf Jaeger, the interior minister of the western North RhineWestphalia state.
Mr Jaeger told reporters state police had launched proceedings against the man on suspicion that he was preparing a serious crime.
He said: “Security agencies exchanged information about this person in the joint counter-terrorism centre, the last time in November.”
Separately, the man’s asylum application was rejected in July. German authorities prepared to deport him, but were not able to do so because he did not have valid identity papers, Mr Jaeger said.
In August they began trying to secure him a replacement passport.
Mr Jaeger added: “Tunisia at first denied that this person was its citizen, and the papers weren’t issued for a long time. They arrived today.”
A Tunisian official said German investigators are trying to determine Amri’s role in the Berlin mar-
ket attack. The official added that Tunisian authorities are requesting more information on the German probe.
The claim of responsibility carried on Islamic State’s Amaq news agency did not identify the man seen fleeing from the truck in Berlin, but described him as “a soldier of the Islamic State” who “carried out the attack in response to calls for targeting citizens of the Crusader coalition”.
Germany’s top prosecutor, Peter Frank, told reporters the attack was reminiscent of a deadly July rampage in the southern French city of Nice and appeared to follow instructions published by IS.
He also said it was not clear whether there was one perpetrator or several in the Berlin attack.
On July 14, a Tunisian living in France was shot dead after carrying out a truck attack on Bastille Day revellers in Nice, killing 86 people.
Police in Berlin, meanwhile, said they had received over 500 tips on the Monday evening attack.
Shortly after the attack, police arrested a Pakistani man just under a mile away who matched witness descriptions of the lorry’s driver, but he was released the next day due to a lack of evidence.
Christmas shoppers were out again in the streets on Wednesday in the German capital, and Berlin mayor Michael Mueller said it was “good to see that Berliners aren’t being intimidated”.
“I don’t think there’s any need to be afraid,” he told ZDF television.
“The police presence has been significantly heightened... and of course other measures taken to find the perpetrator quickly.”
Mr Mueller argued that there are limits to increasing security, given the number of public spaces and events.
“It wouldn’t be our free and open life any more if we escalated security measures so much that people worry about going anywhere, that there are strict entry checks,” he said.
“We don’t want that. It must be appropriate and goal-oriented.”