'Suspected Terror Attack' as 12 Killed in Berlin Christmas Market Lorry Crash
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Berlin police have said the driver of a truck "intentionally" rammed into a Christmas market, targeting crowds there. At least 12 people have been killed in what authorities have dubbed "a probable terror attack."
Investigators in the German capital, Berlin, are assuming that a truck that plowed into a Christmas market "was deliberately steered into the crowd." Authorities announced the latest development on Twitter early Tuesday morning, calling the incident a "probable terrorist attack."
The truck slammed into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin on Monday night, killing at least 12 people and wounding 48, in what authorities are investigating as a possible terrorist attack.
The suspected driver was detained near the scene while a passenger was found dead in the truck. The dead passenger has been identified by police as a Polish national, but authorities have not officially commented on the nationality of the suspected driver.
Security sources said that the man detained likely came to Germany as a refugee in February and was either from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Deutsche Welle reported.
In a Tweet on Tuesday morning, Berlin police said: "All police measures concerning the probable terror attack at Breitscheidplatz are being taken with great speed and the necessary care," police said.
German authorities have been hesitant to label the truck crash as an attack, but German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said signs pointed to everyone's worst fears.
"I don't want to use the word 'attack' yet at the moment, although a lot points to it," de Maiziere told German public broadcaster ARD. "There is a psychological effect in the whole country of the choice of words here, and we want to be very, very cautious and operate close to the actual investigation results, not with speculation."
Earlier, German’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the case had been handed over to federal prosecutors who handle terrorism cases.
The Scania-brand truck rammed up to 80 meters (260 feet) into the Christmas market near the iconic Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, along the Kurfürstendamm shopping mile, at around 8:30 p.m. local time as locals and tourists gathered to enjoy the evening.
The truck had Polish license plates and was carrying steel beams. Earlier, the owner of the truck said he feared the vehicle may have been hijacked.
The likely attack, one of the biggest to hit Germany in more than a decade, comes as Europe is on high alert following a string of terrorist attacks in France and Belgium over the past year.