2016-12-22 12:03:00

Europe Hunts For Attacker Of Berlin Christmas Market

(Vatican Radio) A Europe-wide manhunt is under way for a Tunisian man wanted for Monday's truck attack on a Christmas market in Germany's capital Berlin that killed at least 12 people and injured nearly 50 more. Prosecutors denied reports that four people who allegedly were in contact with the suspect had been detained. The hunt began while the market itself reopened, just two days after the attack.    

Listen to Stefan Bos' report

Questions remained as to why the man, identified as 24-year-old Anis Amri, could allegedly drive a truck deliberately into a crowd visiting the Christmas market near Berlin's famed Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

German authorities said he had been monitored on suspicion of planning a robbery to pay for guns but surveillance was lifted for lack of evidence. Officials reported that the investigation turned up nothing more than drug-dealing in a Berlin park and a bar brawl before the suspect disappeared from his regular haunts in Berlin.

Before entering Germany, he had served four years for arson in Italy. The interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia confirmed that Amri had, more recently, attracted the attention of counter-terrorism police. 

Four people who allegedly had contact with Amri were detained in Dortmund, reported German mass-market daily "Bild", citing Germany's chief federal prosecutor. Public broadcaster WDR also said four people had been taken into custody. But the Federal Prosecutors Office denied the arrests took place. "We are not aware of any arrest."


And it isn't easy to find Amari. A wanted notice says the Tunisian man has used 6 different names and 3 nationalities.
German authorities warn he could be armed and dangerous. They are offering a reward of up to €100,000 for information leading to his arrest.

A 37-year-old Polish lorry driver was found dead in the passenger seat, with both gun and knife wounds, after he was
apparently overpowered. Investigators quoted by German media say there is evidence that Lukasz Urban, despite being stabbed, wrestled the attacker for the steering wheel.

One official quoted by Bild newspaper said it appeared from the post-mortem examination that the driver had survived up to the attack and was shot dead when the truck came to a halt. No gun has been recovered.

Lukasz Wasik, the manager of the Polish trucking company whose truck crashed into the market, called Urban a "good, quiet and honest person" who would have defended the lorry "to the end".

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for its deadliest attack on German soil so far.


Despite fears of more attacks, the Christmas market reopened in defiance of Islamic militants. And Muslims
gathered for a vigil in Berlin where they spoke of their love of the capital and Germany. "We want to clearly distance ourselves from every person that that attacks our society," said participant Abdullah Wagishauser.

"Germany is our home. We love Germany, we want to live here," he stressed. "Berlin is our city and we will not allow our life to be threatened."

Asif Sadiq agrees. "Islam is a peaceful religion, like any other religion. Some people misuse religion and that us why we need to show a clear line, saying Islam stands for peace," he added.  

Their vigil comes at a time when German Chancellor Angela Merkel is under pressure over her open-door policy to
migrants fleeing war and poverty, with critics claiming that militants could be among them.

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