Truck launched on a crowd in Berlin: the balance goes up to 12 dead

International 20 December, 2016

The trail of an attack was made clear after a truck drove on the crowd on Monday night in a Christmas market in the heart of Berlin, leaving at least 12 dead and 48 wounded, according to police who believe they arrested the driver.

This drama recalls by its circumstances the attack on the truck-ram of the 14 of July last in Nice in France, the evening of the national holiday.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in the night that “many reasons” suggested that it was an attack. The investigation was entrusted to the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, competent for terrorism cases.

Similarly, the minister said he had “many reasons” to believe that the suspect arrested shortly after the incident was the driver of the heavyweight, registered in Poland, who ran a fatal run on one of the Christmas markets The busiest in the German capital, around 20:00 local time.

According to sources in the security services cited by the German news agency DPA, the man could be Pakistani or Afghan. He arrived in Germany as an asylum seeker in February 2016. The police refused to comment on the information.

The fear of massive attacks has fueled the political debate in Germany for more than a year. Right-wing populists believe that Chancellor Angela Merkel has endangered her country by opening it in 2015 to nearly 900,000 asylum seekers, most of them from the Muslim world.

A provisional record of the drama on Monday reported at least “12 deaths” and 48 people hospitalized, some in a serious condition.

No indication was given of the identity of the victims, except that one of them was in the truck cabin, a Polish national, according to the police.

Merkel did not react in the hours that followed, but her spokeswoman said on Twitter that she was “in mourning.”

“He just went on”

“I just saw this gigantic black truck that darkened through the market and knocked down so many people, then all the lights went out and everything was destroyed,” said Australian tourist Trisha O’Neill Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

There were “blood and bodies everywhere,” including children and elderly people, she added, saying she had “burst into tears.”

The drama took place at the foot of the Remembrance Church, a landmark monument in the western part of the German capital, located on one of Berlin’s busiest commercial thoroughfares, the Kurfürstendamm.

On the spot, AFP journalists saw broken wooden beams littering the floor, Christmas decorations and at least one pine overturned along the enormous trailer.

Access to the premises was immediately blocked by the security forces, who were busy around the truck with the windshield partially broken. All around, ambulances, firemen and policemen were deployed, taking care of the wounded and keeping the onlookers at bay.

A tourist on the scene and questioned by AFP said he did not know if the driver was “drunk” or deliberately dumped on the crowd, “but he did not try to stop, he Just continued “.

The owner of the company that owned the Polish truck confirmed to AFP the disappearance of his driver. “We have not had contact with him since this afternoon. I do not know what happens to him. He’s my cousin, I’ve known him since childhood. I vouch for him, “said Ariel Zurawski.

Solidarity reactions have multiplied, while Europe is regularly the target of attacks claimed by jihadist groups.

“The French share the mourning of the Germans,” said French President François Hollande. The White House strongly condemned “what appears to be a terrorist attack.”

Isolated attacks

US President-elect Donald Trump denounced the “Islamist terrorists” who “continually attack” Christians.

The drama of Berlin is reminiscent of the attack in Nice (south of France) in July, when a Tunisian had darkened with his heavy weight on the Promenade of the English for nearly two kilometers, targeting a crowd Of civilians, killing 86 people and wounding more than 400 others before being shot down by the police. This attack was claimed by the Islamic State Organization (EI).

Germany has so far been spared by extensive jihadist attacks, but several Islamist attacks have recently been committed by isolated individuals.

The IA claimed two separate attacks in July that resulted in several wounded, one bombed and one stabbed, committed by a 27-year-old Syrian and a 17-year-old asylum seeker, Probably Afghan.

A 12-year-old German-Iraqi child with apparently jihadist motives also wanted to explode a craft at a Christmas market in late November, the German authorities said on 16 December, who described the case as ” Frightening “.

In October, a Syrian committed suicide in prison after being arrested. According to the investigators he was preparing an attack on an airport in Berlin.

Canadians Cautioned

The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs is relaying on its website a call for vigilance for tourists traveling to Germany and “participating in major holiday events” due to an “increased risk of terrorist attacks in the country, The whole of Europe, especially during the holiday season “. The federal authorities also point out “markets” as potential targets.