Germany Identifies New Suspect in Berlin Market Attack

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VOA News
December 21, 2016

German police are engaged in a manhunt to find a Tunisian man suspected of involvement in Monday’s deadly truck rampage in Berlin.

An arrest warrant issued Wednesday names Anis Amri and lists him as a Tunisian citizen, born in the town of Ghaza. The wanted notice says he has used at least six aliases and three nationalities in the past and is considered armed and dangerous.

German authorities also released two photos of the man and described him as being of average height and weight, with black hair and brown eyes.

Police are currently searching for him across Germany and throughout Europe’s Schengen states. Another man, a Pakistani who had been detained following the attack, was released due to lack of evidence.

Following a briefing Wednesday from security officials, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said police had identified Amri as a new suspect, but stressed that “he is a suspect, but not necessarily the assailant.” While de Maiziere refused to confirm or deny the media reports regarding Amri’s connection with Islamic extremist groups, Stephan Mayer, a lawmaker from the governing conservatives, said Amri had been under surveillance for some time.

“We are apparently talking about a potentially dangerous suspect who was known to authorities and belonged to the Salafist-Islamist scene,” Mayer said during the same news conference.

Officials also say police suspected Amri was plotting a serious crime.

“Security agencies exchanged information about this person in the joint counterterrorism center, the last time in November,” said the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, Ralf Jaeger.

According to Jaeger, Amri applied for asylum in Germany in 2015, but his request was denied.

Media reports say authorities found asylum papers belonging to the Tunisian man in the cab of the stolen truck after it was used to plow through a crowded Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring dozens more.

The government in Berlin said 12 people are still receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the attack, but a large number of victims with minor injuries are being released.

Berlin police say they have received more than 500 leads from a telephone tip line since the attack Monday.

On Tuesday, the head of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police force said police have not yet found the gun believed to have been used to kill the truck’s Polish driver.

The Islamic State group has claimed the attack was carried out in response to its calls for people to target citizens of countries participating in the U.S.-led coalition seeking to destroy the militant group.

Germany is not one of the country’s conducting airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, but has served in a support role including refueling and reconnaissance.

Monday’s crash bore strong similarities to a truck attack earlier this year in southern France that killed scores of people and wounded many others as France celebrated a national holiday.

French police linked that July 14 attack, which killed 86 people and wounded more than 400 others, to a Tunisian national with reputed links to Islamic State extremists.

 

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