A man drove a lorry truck through crowds at around 8.15pm local time on Monday, December 19 in Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz. 12 persons have been reported dead with 48 people hospitalised. The truck, which was loaded with steel beams drove through the Christmas market at one of its busiest times at a considerable speed said eyewitnesses.
A Berlin police spokesperson told German newspaper die Welt that the unidentified suspect ran down the street towards the Tiergarten, a large public park. A witness followed him for about 2 km before calling the police after which the suspect was detained.
The driver of the lorry is believed to be a refugee of Afghan or Pakistani origin says the DPA news agency. Tagessspiegel, a German daily said that the man had committed minor crimes but there were no links to terrorism.
A passenger was found dead in the lorry by the police sparking fears that the vehicle was hijacked by the suspect. Ariel Zurawski, a Polish national, told AFP news agency, that his cousin was the driver of the vehicle and had been missing since the afternoon of December 19.
The German police are investigating the suspect and have said that the incident was “probably terror attack” and believe that the truck was deliberately driven through the crowded Christmas market.
The IS (Islamic State) have not claimed responsibility for the incident as of now.
The U.S. has labelled the incident as “appears to have been a terrorist attack.” President-elect Donald Trump said in a statement: “Innocent civilians were murdered in the streets as they prepared to celebrate the Christmas holiday. ISIS and other Islamic terrorists continuously slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad.”
Last month, IS and Al-Qaeda had urged their followers to use vehicles as a means of slaughtering people if they did not have access to guns and explosives.
This is the second time a large vehicle has ploughed through the streets and killed bystanders this year. In July this year, July, 86 people in Nice, France, were killed by a truck driver who ploughed through the streets during Bastille Day celebrations. The IS had claimed responsibility for the attack.
Vigils will be held today in Berlin in memory of the 12 persons who lost their lives in the gruesome incident.