Wednesday

17th Apr 2024

Lorry hits Berlin Christmas market in suspected attack

  • The truck forced itself into the Christmas market near Breitscheidplatz, a popular tourist destination in western Berlin, a bit after 8 PM. (Photo: Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski)

Berlin police say a truck "deliberately" barreled into a Christmas market in Berlin on Monday (19 December) evening, killing at least 12 people in what authorities called "a probable terror attack".

Another 48 were injured, some seriously, the police said.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The identity of the driver is still unclear, a spokeswoman told the German press agency DPA.

A man suspected to be the driver was detained 2km from the scene. He was questioned through the night.

According to DPA, he could be Afghan or Pakistani, and could have applied for asylum in February. The police have not confirmed the man's nationality.

Another man, whom the police confirmed was a Polish national, was found dead in the truck, which has Polish licence plates and belongs to a Polish haulage company.

His cousin told Polish radio that he had driven to Berlin in the lorry with a load of steel, and had been unreachable since 4pm on Monday.

The information has not been confirmed by German police, who suggested the truck was stolen from a construction site in Berlin. The police said on Tuesday the vehicle had been confiscated for examination.

The truck forced itself into the Christmas market near Breitscheidplatz, a popular tourist destination in western Berlin, a bit after 8pm.

The police thanked traders around the market for taking care of the wounded and for helping the police.

They asked people to share videos and photos of the events with the authorities, but to refrain from spreading them online.

The case was being investigated by Germany's federal prosecutor general.

"I don't want to use the word 'attack' yet at the moment, although there is a strong case for it," German minister of interior, Thomas de Maiziere, said on German radio ARD.

He said that the choice of words would have a "psychological effect on the whole country", warranting restraint.

"We want to be very, very cautious and operate close to the actual investigation results, not with speculation,” he said.

"We are crying for the victims, and hope many of the hurt ones will receive help," wrote on Twitter Steffen Seibert, the spokesman of chancellor Angela Merkel.

German president Joachim Gauck, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, and French president Francois Hollande were among those who also voiced condolences to families of the victims.

"The French share the mourning of the Germans who are facing this tragedy, which hits all Europe," Hollande said.

Some, however, laid the blame for the attack with the chancellor, and her choice to welcome asylum seekers. Marcus Pretzell, an MEP and one of the leaders of the anti-immigrant AfD party, tweeted shortly after the attack that it was "Merkel's dead".

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the events, but the so-called Islamic State (IS) jihadist group has previously called on followers to carry out terrorist strikes in Europe.

Europol, the EU’s joint police agency, said earlier this month that further jihadist attacks are likely in Europe. It said Germany could be a target because it contradicted the promise of the Caliphate as an Islamic utopia by welcoming Syrian refugees. Europol said it was likely recruiters tried to infiltrate refugee reception centres.

Die Welt's Washington correspondent wrote on Twitter that according to his colleagues, Berlin authorities had in recent days received information about possible attack against Christmas markets.

More jihadi attacks likely in Europe, Europol says

The European joint police agency said that the group had shifted focus to so-called soft targets, because indiscriminate attacks on ordinary people have shown most successful in terrorising public opinion.

Terror attack shuts down UK parliament

[Updated] Westminster, and its surrounding areas, has been sealed off after a car drove into several people and one policeman was stabbed. At least three people have been killed.

Merkel faces backlash over Berlin attack

The German chancellor says Monday's deadly crash at a Christmas market was a terrorist attack, but calls for calm. Her critics are already blaming her refugee policy.

EU leaders mull ways to arrest bloc's economic decline

With Europe falling behind the US and losing ground to China, the special European Council will focus mainly on Europe's economic competitiveness in the global arena. But talks will also cover Ukraine, Turkey and the Middle East.

Police ordered to end far-right 'Nat-Con' Brussels conference

The controversial far-right "National Conservatism" conference taking place in Brussels was ordered to halt at the behest of the local neighbourhood mayor — in what critics described as a publicity victory for the populist right.

Opinion

How Hungary's teachers are taking on Viktor Orban

Orban and his administration are pursuing a strategy of running-down public education in Hungary. They have been explicit in their aims and how their assault on 'non-Christian' teachers is a small price to pay for the cultural shift they want.

Opinion

How Hungary's teachers are taking on Viktor Orban

Orban and his administration are pursuing a strategy of running-down public education in Hungary. They have been explicit in their aims and how their assault on 'non-Christian' teachers is a small price to pay for the cultural shift they want.

Column

What do we actually mean by EU 'competitiveness'?

Enrico Letta and Mario Draghi are coming up with reports on the EU's single market and competitiveness — but although 'competitiveness' has become a buzzword, there's no consensus on a definition for what it actually means.

Latest News

  1. EU leaders mull ways to arrest bloc's economic decline
  2. Police ordered to end far-right 'Nat-Con' Brussels conference
  3. How Hungary's teachers are taking on Viktor Orban
  4. What do we actually mean by EU 'competitiveness'?
  5. New EU envoy Markus Pieper quits before taking up post
  6. EU puts Sudan war and famine-risk back in spotlight
  7. EU to blacklist Israeli settlers, after new sanctions on Hamas
  8. Private fears of fairtrade activist for EU election campaign

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us