Truck slams into Christmas market in Berlin
A truck plowed into a Christmas market in Berlin at about 8.15 p.m. local time Monday, killing at least 12 people and wounding 48 others.
Here’s what we know so far.
Truck owned by Polish firm
Police said the truck, which was loaded with steel beams, was owned by a Polish delivery company, ARIEL Żurawski. The firm said the truck left Poland earlier Monday and the company lost contact with the 37-year-old driver, the cousin of the firm’s owner Ariel Zurawski, at around 3 p.m. local time, AFP reported. Zurawski said he believed the truck was hijacked. “I can say, hand on heart, that the man who drove into those people in the center of Berlin was not my driver,” he said, according to the Telegraph.
Who was the driver?
A Polish man who was a passenger in the truck died in the crash, police said. The suspected driver fled the scene but was later detained. German media named him as Naved B, 23, an asylum-seeker from Pakistan. The RBB-Inforadio radio station reported that he entered Germany on Dec. 31, 2015 while German news agency DPA, said he arrived in February. Police have not confirmed the reports.
Was it terrorism?
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that the incident was an “assumed terror attack.” The attack is reminiscent of a truck attack in Nice, France, in July in Nice, France — the vehicle drove in to a crowd that was celebrating Bastille Daycelebrations, killing 86 people. The Tunisian driver was shot and killed by police. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack.
Link to refugees?
Germany has been the target of a series of small-scale attacks over the last year. If Monday’s attack is confirmed to be terrorism and carried out by a refugee, it will stoke further criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow 890,000 refugees into the country last year. Nigel Farage, a member of the European Parliament for Britain’s anti-immigration U.K. Independence Party, tweeted, “Terrible news from Berlin but no surprise. Events like these will be the Merkel legacy.” The tweet was condemned by some other Twitter users.
Security heightened across Europe
Christmas markets are a common sight in towns and cities across Europe in the run-up to the holidays, attracting thousands of visitors. Germany’s interior ministry said that Christmas markets in the country will be shuttered Tuesday in memory of the victims. France, the victim of a series of recent terror attacks, increased security at its Christmas markets following the attack. Police in London said they were reviewing security for public events over Christmas and New Year. The Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, near the border with Germany, was the target of a failed bomb plot by extremists on New Year’s Eve in 2000.