CHRIST­MAS MAR­KET HIT: 12 hurt in truck in­ci­dent in Ber­lin.

12 killed when truck rams mar­ket

The Times-Tribune - - Front Page - BY KIRSTEN GRIESHABER AND FRANK JORDANS

BER­LIN — Po­lice said today that the driver who rammed a truck into a crowded Christ­mas mar­ket in the heart of the Ger­man cap­i­tal, killing at least 12 peo­ple and in­jur­ing nearly 50, did so in­ten­tion­ally and that they are in­ves­ti­gat­ing a sus­pected “ter­ror attack.”

The truck struck the pop­u­lar Christ­mas mar­ket out­side the Kaiser Wil­helm Me­mo­rial Church late Mon­day as tourists and lo­cals were en­joy­ing a tra­di­tional pre-Christ­mas evening out near Ber­lin’s Zoo sta­tion.

“Our in­ves­ti­ga­tors are work­ing on the as­sump­tion that the truck was in­ten­tion­ally driven into the crowd at the Christ­mas mar­ket on Bre­itschei­d­platz,” Ber­lin po­lice said on Twit­ter.

“All po­lice mea­sures con­cern­ing the sus­pected ter­ror attack at Bre­itschei­d­platz are be­ing taken with great speed and the nec­es­sary care,” they said.

Hours ear­lier Ger­many’s top se­cu­rity of­fi­cial had re­frained from point­ing to an in­ten­tional act, but said ev­i­dence pointed in that di­rec­tion, while the White House con­demned “what ap­pears to have been a ter­ror­ist attack.”

The crash came less than a month af­ter the U.S. State De­part­ment called for cau­tion in mar­kets and other pub­lic places across Europe, say­ing ex­trem­ist groups in­clud­ing Is­lamic State and al-Qaida were fo­cus­ing “on the up­com­ing hol­i­day sea­son and as­so­ci­ated events.”

The Is­lamic State group and al-Qaida have both called on fol­low­ers to use trucks in par­tic­u­lar to attack crowds. On July 14, a truck plowed into Bastille Day rev­el­ers in the south­ern French city of Nice, killing 86 peo­ple. Is­lamic State claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for that attack, which was car­ried out by a Tu­nisian liv­ing in France.

Af­ter the Ber­lin attack, dozens of am­bu­lances lined the streets wait­ing to evac­u­ate peo­ple, and heav­ily armed po­lice pa­trolled. Au­thor­i­ties on Twit­ter urged peo­ple to stay away from the area, say­ing they need to keep the streets clear for res­cue ve­hi­cles.

Among the dead was a pas­sen­ger in the truck, who suc­cumbed as paramedics treated him, Ber­lin po­lice spokesman Win­fried Wen­zel said. Po­lice said later that the man was a Pol­ish na­tional, but didn’t give fur­ther de­tails of who he was or what hap­pened to him.

A sus­pect be­lieved to be the driver was picked up about 1½ miles away, near the Vic­tory Col­umn mon­u­ment. He was be­ing in­ter­ro­gated, Mr. Wen­zel said. The truck was reg­is­tered in Poland, and po­lice said it was be­lieved to be stolen from a build­ing site there. They didn’t give a spe­cific lo­ca­tion.

The Pol­ish owner of the truck said he feared the ve­hi­cle, driven by his cousin, may have been hi­jacked. Ariel Zu­rawski said he last spoke with the driver around noon, and the driver told him he was in Ber­lin and sched­uled to un­load this morn­ing. “They must have done some­thing to my driver,” he told TVN24.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors, who han­dle ter­ror­ism cases, took over the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ac­cord­ing to Ger­man Jus­tice Min­is­ter Heiko Maas. In Wash­ing­ton, White House Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil spokesman Ned Price said the United States was in con­tact with Ger­man of­fi­cials and ready to help in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and re­sponse.

MICHAEL SOHN / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Fire­fight­ers look at a top­pled Christ­mas tree af­ter a truck ran into a crowded Christ­mas mar­ket and killed 12 peo­ple Mon­day in Ber­lin, Ger­many.

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