UPDATE: Attacker shot dead in Italy, Truck Plows Into Crowd At German Christmas Market

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12/23 7PM  GMT +1 European Time

The attacker Anis Amri,  was killed earlier in the day by police during a shoot out after a routine ID check in Milan, Italy. Anis Amri was on foot.

The Berlin attacker acted calm at first, when the officers asked him to empty his backpack, he drew a gun from his jacket and fired at one of the officers. The other took cover cover behind the police car and returned fire, killing Amri.

The German authorities say the fingerprints provided by the Italian officials match with those found in the truck in Berlin.

Anis Amris killed 12 people at a Berlin Christmas market and left 49 injured.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that her cabinet will work on ”examining what government measures need to be improved.”  She vowed that anywhere change is needed the government will swiftly agree on and enforce new policies.

In the meantime, the self proclaimed Islamic State (IS) has released a video showing the attacker swearing his allegiance in Arabic to the caliphate and it’s leader.It is not clear when the video was made as no reference is made to the attack, which IS claimed credit for soon afterwards.

Federal prosecutor Peter Frank said earlier at a press conference focus that it is not yet clear, whether the attacker had acted on his own.

The attack has sparked criticism by right wing and conservative parties in Germany and abroad. There is talk of increasing video surveillance, by the interior minister of Bavaria and calls for more thorough background checks and faster processing of deportation, especially for people coming from the North African ”Maghreb” states, as Anis Amri did. Currently 9000 rejected Asylum seekers from the Maghreb states remain in Germany on temporary permits.

Currently these states, including Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria have not been classified as safe havens yet, to be able reject asylum seekers from those countries. The left leaning Green Party in North Rhine Westphalia, where Amrir had first applied for asylum has rejected changing the classification to ”safe states” for Northern African countries.

 

12/22 9AM  GMT +1 European Time

In other news, the interior German ministry has issued plans for law reform to allow for more video surveillance of public places, automatic reading of license plates and facial recognition. Along with reforming personal privacy law to give potential security risks more precedence.

 

12/22 2AM  GMT +1 European Time

The suspect has been identified as Tunisian refugee Anis A, his temporary refugee stay papers had been found in the drivers cabin of the truck.  He is yet to be apprehended.

The BKA (federal German criminal investigation authority) is now offering a reward of up to €100,000 for information leading to his arrest.

The suspect had been under joint German intelligence surveillance earlier this year up until September on suspicion of seeking to steal money to buy guns. Surveillance was dropped after lack of evidence.

Police are now searching the migrant shelter in a town of North Rhine Westphalia, western Germany, where the the perpetrators papers where issued.

He traveled to Italy in 2011, was arrested for arson and spent at least 4 years in prison. Later applying for applying for asylum in Germany in April of 2015 where he was only granted temporary stay papers.

Ralf Jaeger, the minister of interior of North Rhine-Westphalia, said that Anis claim for asylum had been rejected in June but his deportation could be processing because he had was missing ID documents.

Tunisia, Mr Jaeger said, had denied Anis Amri was its citizen, so the authorities had had to wait for temporary passport documentation from Tunisia.

The minister further reported that the suspect had contact with recently convicted Islamist preacher, Ahmad Abdelazziz,  who was arrested in November for recruting people to fight for the Islamic State.

 

12/21 9PM GMT +1 European Time

The polish driver of the truck, who had been found shot and dead appeared to have put up a fight.  Ariel  Z. owner of the trucking company told a polish TV network, recognizing his cousin, “his face was swollen and bloodied. It was really clear that he was fighting for his life,”  after identifying his cousin based on the photos shown to him by the Berlin police.

He further stated that the truck’s GPS noted movement shortly before an unanswered call to his cousin. “The truck was started up, turned off, driven forward, then backward. As if someone was learning to drive it,” he said.

Another coworker commented saying “he would not give up the vehicle and would defend it to the end if attacked,” describing the driver as a “good, quiet and honest person.”

 

12/21  1AM GMT + 1 European Time

The situation as it has unraveled over the past 24 hours is still not resolved. The area around the site of the attack was only opened to the public 5 hours ago after being actively investigated  by the german LKA (State Criminal Police Office.)

Police had arrested and placed a Pakistani immigrant that had been in the vicinity of the area surrounding the Christmas market several hours after the initial attack, he had been followed and tipped off by person following him. This lead turned out to be false, senior police officials clarified that the suspect did not have blood of the shot polish truck driver on their clothing and their alibi had been cleared. The perpetrator remains at large and is still on the run.

 

12/20 12AM GMT+2 European Time

Berlin, Germany – Europe has once more been befallen by an act of terror- without the use of a conventional firearm or melee weapon. Monday night a truck plowed through masses of people on a traditional German Christmas market in the capitol city.  According to most recent eyewitness reports the truck entered the market plaza from an adjacent side street. First responders from the site have reported at least 9 dead, so far this number has not been officially confirmed. 50 injured people have been brought to Berlin hospitals. The Berlin police PD has confirmed via their Twitter page that 2 people had been in the truck, one of them was found dead in the driver’s cabin of the stalled truck. The other assailant had left the vehicle and escaped, but has been since apprehended by the increased police forces called to the area around the ‘’Breitscheidplatz’’ Christmas market. The identities of the 2 people in the truck have not been confirmed yet.

Police have blocked off the surrounding area and public transportation but has stated via their Twitter that there is no indications of further threats.

Currently the motive of the attack is unclear, the LKA (State Criminal Police Office) have begun their investigation at the site of the attack. Police has confirmed that the truck uses polish license plates and is registered to a polish freight shipping company. It had been transporting steel beams. Ariel Z., the owner of said company has since appeared on a TV interview for TVN24 stating that his cousin had been driving the truck for him. His cousin’s wife had last spoken with his cousin at noon earlier in the day. Ariel Z. further stated that he cannot imagine his cousin doing such a thing on purpose and that he hadn’t noticed any oddities in their cousin’s behavior. He had been working for the company for 15 years and the Truck only driven 30k kilometers. Ariel Z. thinks that his truck has most likely been stolen.

The German vice chancellor has taken to twitter saying ”this is a tragic night, it is not time for speculations.” Prominent German comedian Jan Böhmerman stated during his show, calling to ”not spread rumors and do not listen to these a**wipes, who now use this terrible event for their political purposes. ” Though one finds themselves hard pressed to find any pundits calling shots on the motive of the attack.

The attack itself, mimics the terrorist attack in Nice, France on July 14th, France’s Independence Day during which a Truck had startled and plowed through a celebrating crowd, killing 86 people. The ‘’2016 Bastille Day’’ terrorist attack has been linked to the Islamic State by French intelligence agencies. Six suspects have since been taken into custody, three of whom have been charged for complicity in murder connected to a terrorist organization.  The vice mayor of Nice has taken to twitter to express his support to the mayor of Berlin and the german people saying ‘’Never must this happen again.’’

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