Berlin police unsure if wrong man arrested in Christmas market truck attack

A view of the damaged truck after the attack. (AP/CNN)

UPDATE:

9:10 a.m. — The head of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office says he cannot rule out that suspects involved in the truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market could still be at large.

Holger Muench told reporters Tuesday authorities are still not positive the suspect they have in custody was the driver of the truck, they have not yet found a pistol believed used to kill the truck’s passenger, and it is not known overall how many people were involved.

For those reasons, he says, we are “naturally on high alert and are investigating in all directions.”

He says six of the 12 people killed have been identified and are all Germans, but he does not yet know whether the other six are as well.

Germany’s top prosecutor Peter Frank says no terrorist organizations have claimed responsibility yet for the attack.

Frank says the method used in the rampage was reminiscent of July’s truck attack in Nice, France and of the “modus operandi” used by Islamic extremist groups.

7:45 a.m. — Berlin police say they are not sure if the man arrested after a large truck crashed into a Christmas market full of holiday shoppers is in fact connected to the attack.

Police announce Tuesday morning they are not sure if the person arrested shortly after Monday night’s attack was the truck’s driver or not, as officials suspected. Two German intelligence officials had previously announced the man in custody was a Pakistani refugee.

If the suspect in custody is not the person responsible for the crash, then the actual driver and terror suspect would be at large, armed, and dangerous.


(ORIGINAL STORY)

BERLIN (CNN) — The man suspected of deliberately ramming a large truck into a Christmas market in Berlin is a refugee from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, two German intelligence officials and a police official tell CNN.

The sources say the suspect in Monday evening’s attack arrived in Passau, a city on Germany’s border with Austria, back on December 31, 2015, after traveling through the Balkans.

A map of the area where the truck slammed into a crowd of people visiting a Christmas market. (CNN)
A map of the area where the truck slammed into a crowd of people visiting a Christmas market. (CNN)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a press conference on Tuesday saying it would be “especially disgusting” if the suspect turned out to have been given asylum in Germany.

Merkel also says there is “no doubt” the act was deliberate and the incident is being treated as a terror attack. The case now goes to the German federal police and public prosecutor for investigation.

So far, 12 people are confirmed dead and 48 were hospitalized with various injuries after the crash. Berlin police say the truck was carrying 25 tons of steel at the time and the Polish truck company’s owner reported the truck as hijacked.

The suspect was arrested shortly after the attack, but denies any involvement.

A man found dead in the passenger’s seat has been confirmed as a Polish national. The identities of the dead and the suspect are not being released at this time.

A police officer stands guard at the market after the incident in Berlin on Monday. (AP/CNN)
A police officer stands guard at the market after the incident in Berlin on Monday. (AP/CNN)

Berlin police are stepping up armed patrols in Christmas markets around Germany in response to the deadly attack. Police say Tuesday on Twitter \the measure is being taken “as a precaution.”

Danish and Norwegian police have increased their presence at Christmas markets in the countries’ capitals, Copenhagen and Oslo, following the attack in Berlin.

 

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