A refugee is thought to have been behind the wheel of a 25-tonne articulated lorry which mowed down and killed 12 people – and injured 48 others – as it sped at 40mph through a busy Christmas market in Berlin.
The vehicle laden with steel cargo mounted the pavement at 7pm, before tearing through stalls and shoppers on Breitscheidplatz Square, outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the German capital’s main shopping area.
The man at the wheel – who according to German newspaper Berliner used different aliases, was of Afghan heritage and had arrived in Germany in February – fled the scene before being arrested at a nearby zoo.
Police confirmed the original driver, who was transporting steel beams from Poland to Germany, was a Polish national who was found dead in the lorry’s cabin. It is thought he was hijacked.
As German police, the White House and Germany’s top security official indicated the incident was terror related, there was a chilling echo of the deadly terror attack in the French city of Nice in July. It also came just one hour after the Russian ambassador was shot dead in Ankara.
The harrowing incident also comes amid repeated warnings from various security agencies that ISIS planned to wreak havoc on European countries during the festive season, specifically threatening Christmas markets.