German officials treating Berlin Christmas market attack as terrorism

A man lights a candle in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016, the day after a truck ran into a crowded Christmas market and killed several people. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Without backing up his claim, President-elect Donald Trump is blaming Islamic terrorism for deadly violence in Turkey and Germany and vowing to eradicate their regional and global networks.

Authorities in both countries were still investigating Monday when Trump issued a pair of statements condemning the incidents.

Trump called the shooting of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey at an exhibit “a violation of all rules of civilized order.” He added that a “radical Islamic terrorist” had assassinated the diplomat, Andrei Karlov.

Trump blamed the Islamic State group and other “Islamist terrorists” for the deaths of at least 12 people in Berlin and said their networks “must be eradicated from the face of the earth.”

Trump’s transition team did not respond to requests to cite the sources for his claims of terrorist involvement.


BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on investigation of truck rampage in Berlin Christmas market (all times local):


2:50 p.m.

Germany’s top prosecutor says investigators are treating the Berlin Christmas market attack as an act of terrorism, though there is no claim of responsibility yet.

Peter Frank also told reporters Tuesday it’s not entirely clear whether there was one perpetrator or more. He says the suspect in custody “may not have been the perpetrator or belong to the group of perpetrators.”

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.


2:40 p.m.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed his grief over the deaths in the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin.

In a statement, he says that “terrorism is our common enemy and the world needs to put up a joint fight against this menace.” Sharif says Pakistan will continue to take steps to eliminate terrorism, as his country also has been a victim.

Police detained an asylum-seeker from Pakistan shortly after Monday’s attack, but he denied involvement, Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. Berlin police chief Klaus Kandt said it wasn’t clear whether the man was really the truck’s driver.


2:20 p.m.

Pope Francis is urging those of good will to fight the “folly of terrorism.”

In a condolence telegram Tuesday to Berlin’s archbishop, Francis prays for the dead and injured in Monday’s attack on a Christmas market in Berlin. He says he joins “all men of good will” who have committed themselves to efforts “so that the murderous folly of terrorism finds no more room in our world.”

Francis also prays for the 12 persons who were killed and for the many wounded in what he called “the terrible act of violence.”


1:40 p.m.

Berlin’s police chief says it isn’t clear whether the man detained in the wake of Monday’s fatal truck attack on a busy Christmas market was really the driver.

Klaus Kandt told reporters in Berlin that “we haven’t been able to confirm it yet.”

Twelve people were killed in the attack.


1 p.m.

The owner of a Polish trucking company says the driver who was the first victim of the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin was stabbed and shot to death in the cabin of his truck.

Ariel Zurawski says German authorities asked him to identify the victim, Lukasz Urban, 37, from photos.

“His face was swollen and bloodied. It was really clear that he was fighting for his life,” Zurawski said, speaking to broadcaster TVN.

Lukasz Wasik, the manager of the trucking company, described Urban as a “good, quiet and honest person” devoted to his work.

“I believe he would not give up the vehicle and would defend it to the end if were attacked,” Wasik said in comments carried by TVP, Poland’s state broadcaster.


12:55 p.m.

Germany’s top security official says a suspect arrested after the truck attack in Berlin “comes from Pakistan” and had applied for asylum.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters Tuesday that the suspect entered Germany on Dec. 31, 2015, and arrived in Berlin in February.

He says that so far authorities have no knowledge of a claim of responsibility from the Islamic State group.


12:45 p.m.

Germany’s top security official says authorities have “no doubt” that the fatal ramming of a busy Christmas market in Berlin on Monday was an intentional attack.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says 12 people were killed. Among the dead was a Polish citizen found on the passenger seat of the truck with a gunshot wound.

De Maiziere told reporters on Tuesday that a man arrested in connection with the attack has denied to police that he was involved.


11:50 a.m.

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

The prime minister of Finland, Juha Sipala, said Monday’s attack that killed at least 12 people “was (an) evening of absolutely shocking news and senseless violence.”


11:20 a.m.

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo says it is “with pain and sadness we received the information that the first victim of this heinous act of violence was a Polish citizen.”

Szydlo told reporters that Monday’s attack on a Christmas market in Berlin is a reminder that “Europe must become unified in the fight against terrorism and Europe must take effective action to protect its citizens.”


11:10 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is “shocked, shaken and deeply saddened” by the attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed at least 12 people Monday.

Merkel told reporters on Tuesday that it would be “particularly sickening” if it turns out the attacker was an asylum-seeker who sought refuge in Germany.

German media have reported that a suspect arrested after the attack was a Pakistani citizen who came to Germany in late 2015 or early 2016.


11:05 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken with U.S. President Barack Obama, who expressed his condolences in the wake of the fatal attack on a Christmas market in Berlin.

At least a dozen people were killed when a truck rammed into the busy market in the German capital in what police described as a suspected “terror attack.”

Merkel’s office says the two leaders spoke by phone early Tuesday, and Obama assured the chancellor of America’s full support in investigating the attack.


11:00 a.m.

London’s Metropolitan Police say they are reviewing security plans for public events over the holidays after Monday’s attacks in Germany and Turkey.

Police said Tuesday they are considering “a range of threats, including the use of large vehicles.”

Police say it is routine to review security plans after attacks overseas.


10:55 a.m.

Berlin police are stepping up armed patrols in response to the fatal attack on a Christmas market Monday.

Police said Tuesday on Twitter that the measure is being taken “as a precaution.”

At least a dozen people were killed when a truck rammed into a busy Christmas market in the German capital in what police described as a suspected “terror attack.”


10:45 a.m.

Berlin’s top security official is calling for Christmas markets in the city to remain shut on Tuesday after Monday’s attack that killed at least 12.

Germany’s Interior Ministry says Berlin’s state interior minister, Andreas Geisel, told federal and regional counterparts that operators of Christmas markets in the capital were asked to close out of respect for the victims and their relatives.

The ministry says the officials agreed that Christmas markets and other major events across Germany should go ahead and that decisions on tightening security measures should be made locally.

The federal interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, said: “Whatever we find out going forward about the exact background motive of the perpetrators, we must not and will not allow our free life to be taken away.”


9:40 a.m.

Police in the English city of Manchester say they are increasing patrols of many popular Christmas markets following the attack in Berlin.

Police said Tuesday they had added extra protection at the 10 market sites, which are often thronged with shoppers in the days before Christmas.

Assistant chief Debbie Ford says the increase is in line with Britain’s “national response.” The country’s terror threat has long been judged to be severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.

She says there is no intelligence suggesting an attack in greater Manchester is imminent.


9:25 a.m.

German police have searched a large shelter for asylum-seekers in Berlin in response to the fatal attack on Christmas market Monday.

The dpa news agency reported Tuesday that up to 250 officers took part in the operation at the now-defunct Tempelhof airport overnight.

It quoted a spokesman for Berlin’s office for refugee affairs, Sascha Langenbach, saying four men in the late 20s were questioned by police but nobody was arrested.

Several German media, citing unnamed security sources, reported that the suspect in the attack was a Pakistani man who entered Germany late 2015 or early this year.

Police declined to comment on the reports, referring questions to federal prosecutors who didn’t immediately respond to calls Tuesday.


8:10 a.m.

Germany’s top security official is ordering flags at federal buildings to be flown at half-staff in the wake of Monday’s truck attack in Berlin.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in a statement Tuesday that the decision was taken as a mark of sympathy following the attack.

Authorities say at least 12 people were killed and almost 50 injured when a heavily laden truck slammed into a Christmas market in the west of the German capital.

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