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Intense Manhunt Underway Across Europe for Berlin Truck Attacker

  • VOA News

People stay in front of candles close to a Christmas market beside the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church in Berlin, Germany, Dec. 21, 2016, two days after a truck ran into a crowded Christmas market there, killed several people and injuring dozens.

An intense manhunt is underway in Germany and across much of Europe for the chief suspect in Monday's deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin.

Twelve people were killed and dozens were injured when a driver plowed a truck into a crowd of shoppers getting ready for the holiday.

A German arrest warrant named the suspect as Anis Amri, 24, from Ghaza, Tunisia; he is about 1.78 meters (5 feet 10 inches) tall, of average weight, and has black hair and brown eyes.

Media reports late Wednesday said police had raided two apartments in Berlin's Kreuzberg district in their hunt for Amri but came away empty-handed.

The wanted poster issued by German federal police Dec. 21, 2016, shows 24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri who is suspected of being involved in the fatal attack on the Christmas market in Berlin on Dec. 19, 2016. German authorities are offering a reward of up to 100,000 euro ($105,000) for the arrest of the Tunisian.
The wanted poster issued by German federal police Dec. 21, 2016, shows 24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri who is suspected of being involved in the fatal attack on the Christmas market in Berlin on Dec. 19, 2016. German authorities are offering a reward of up to 100,000 euro ($105,000) for the arrest of the Tunisian.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere would not confirm or deny media reports that Amri had been in touch with Islamic extremists. The Islamic State group has already claimed responsibility for the truck attack, which was similar to an assault carried out five months ago in Nice, France, that killed 86 people.

Prosecutors offered a reward of over $100,000 for information leading to Amri's capture. A wanted notice said, "Beware: He could be violent and armed!"

Police found Amri's identity papers in the wrecked truck; they named him as their chief suspect after learning that he had applied unsuccessfully for refugee status in Germany last year, and that he was facing deportation to Tunisia.

Police officers patrol a Christmas market near the city hall in Berlin, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016
Police officers patrol a Christmas market near the city hall in Berlin, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016

Prosecutors said Amri had used several aliases since coming to Germany in 2013. Stephan Mayer, a lawmaker from the governing conservatives, said authorities had been keeping an eye on Amri for some time.

In Tunisia, Amri's father said his son had left home for Europe seven years ago, and that he had spent time in detention in Italy before making his way to Germany.

Even before Amri was announced at the chief suspect, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had said it would be especially distressing if the killer was a refugee or asylum seeker looking for protection in Germany.

The truck, which was loaded with steel girders when it crashed through market stalls and mowed down shoppers on Monday, was stolen. Its Polish driver was found shot to death in the vehicle's cab.

Workers continue to clear the site of a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, Dec. 21, 2016. A truck plowed through a crowd at the Christmas market on Monday night, killing 12 people.
Workers continue to clear the site of a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, Dec. 21, 2016. A truck plowed through a crowd at the Christmas market on Monday night, killing 12 people.

Before Amri emerged as the main suspect, police had detained a Pakistani man on suspicion of involvement in the attack, but he was later cleared and released.

The market where this week's bloodbath took place, at the foot of the historic Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in central Berlin, remained closed Wednesday, but more than 60 other Christmas markets across Berlin were open, with tightened security precautions in effect.

Security has also been boosted elsewhere in Germany, and in other European cities preparing for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

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