A LORRY attack on a Christmas market in Berlin was an “act of terrorism” that German authorities said yesterday they were ready to blame on Islamist extremists.
A man drove the lorry into crowds near the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church on Monday night, killing 11 and hurting 50 — 18 seriously.
Another victim was Lukasz Urban, the 37-year-old Polish lorry driver whose vehicle was used in the attack. Mr Urban fought hard against the attacker, who stabbed and shot him to death.
Mr Urban was likely killed before the attacker committed the market atrocity and his body was found in the passenger seat in the lorry’s cab.
Police have a man in custody for the attack but Federal Criminal Police Office chief Holger Muench said yesterday that they weren’t sure whether he was the driver.
The man denies being involved. Police are still hunting for one or more suspects. Witnesses said they only saw one man trying to flee.
Germany’s top prosecutor Peter Frank said that the attack resembled a similar one in Nice, southern France, in July and appeared to follow instructions set out by Middle Eastern death cult Isis.
At the time of going to press no-one had claimed responsibility for the murders.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that the man in custody was a Pakistani who entered Germany on December 31 2015 as a refugee, arriving in Berlin in February.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that it “would be particularly sickening” if the killer turned out to be a refugee.
Ms Merkel did not mention that most of the refugees arriving in Germany are themselves fleeing Islamist terror and wars in the Middle East stoked up by Western powers.
Pakistan’s President Nawaz Sharif offered his condolences, saying that “terrorism is our common enemy.” However, Pakistan’s military and spy agencies have historically supported extremist groups — frequently with British backing.
Officials across Europe said that they would increase security at public events in response to the attack.