German authorities are holding a recent migrant from Pakistan in custody on suspicion that he may have carried out the truck-ramming attack Monday in Berlin. The suspect denies involvement.
A top Germany security official said Tuesday that there is “no doubt” that the truck attack on shoppers at a popular Christmas market in Berlin was a terror attack. To date, 12 are dead and 48 wounded, some severely.
Chancellor Angela Merkel summoned Germany’s top security officials Tuesday to discuss the government’s response to the deadly attack.
“There is still a lot that we don’t know about this act with sufficient certainty,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin, in her first personal statement following the incident. “But we must, as things stand, assume it was a terrorist attack.”
Police, too, said that the truck appeared to have been driven into the crowd intentionally. So far, no group has claimed responsibility.
Authorities arrested a 23-year-old recent migrant from Pakistan about two kilometers (1½ miles) from the crash site on suspicion of having been at the wheel of the truck. They later acknowledged that they are not sure whether he is the terrorist, but are holding him in custody.
Germany’s chief Federal prosecutor Peter Frank, speaking at a press conference Tuesday, remarked, “We don’t have anybody claiming responsibility, so we are not 100% sure over the background at this stage… We are carrying out investigations, looking at the lorry, gathering witness statements and analyzing them. We are looking at video footage from the scene and the street the lorry came down, and we are carrying out an investigation into the Polish lorry driver.”
“We don’t know 100 percent if there was one perpetrator or several, and we don’t know if they have been supported. We might have to get used to the idea that the person, a citizen of Pakistan detained last night… perhaps he might not be the perpetrator, or part of the group of perpetrators.”
Berlin’s police added that the terrorist(s) may still at large, and should be considered armed and dangerous.
A Country on Edge
Germany has been increasingly wary since two attacks by asylum seekers in the summer that were claimed by Islamic State (ISIS). Five people were wounded in an ax rampage on a train near Wuerzburg and 15 in a bombing outside a bar in Ansbach, both in the southern state of Bavaria. The terrorists who carried out those two attacks were killed by security forces.
This latest attack comes less than a month after the US State Department warned that Muslim terror groups, including Islamic State and al-Qaeda, were focusing “on the upcoming holiday season and associated events” in Europe.
ISIS and al-Qaeda have both specifically called on followers to use trucks to attack crowds. On July 14, a truck plowed into Bastille Day revelers in the southern French city of Nice, killing 86 people. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack, which was carried out by a Tunisian living in France.
Merkel emphasized that Monday’s attack would not cause Germany to live in fear.
“Even if it’s difficult at this hour, we will find the strength to live life the way we want to live it in Germany. Free, together and openly,” she said.
US President-elect Donald Trump labeled the attack part of a “global jihad.”
By: AP and World Israel News Staff