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Germany: Alleged Tunisian Contact of Berlin Attacker Detained

  • VOA News

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other government members visit the site of the attack in Berlin, Germany, Dec. 20, 2016, the day after a truck ran into a crowded Christmas market and killed several people.

German authorities have detained a Tunisian man allegedly linked to Anis Amri, the man who carried out a deadly attack on a Berlin Christmas market.

Federal prosecutors said on Wednesday the 40-year-old man was detained after a search on his business and residence. Officials said the man's telephone number was saved in Amri's cellphone.

"The investigations indicate that he [Tunisian man] may have been linked to the attack," the federal prosecutor said in a statement.

Prosecutors have until Thursday to decide whether or not they have enough evidence to seek a formal arrest warrant.

Amri used a truck to plow through the crowded market, killing 12 people and injuring 56 others. Before the attack he made a video in which he pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State terror group and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

After migrating illegally from Tunisia in 2011, Amri was imprisoned for burning down a migrant detention center in Italy. When freed, attempts to deport him to Tunisia failed for bureaucratic reasons. He subsequently traveled to Switzerland and then Germany, where he apparently fell under the influence of a radical network accused of recruiting for the Islamic State group.

Although Germany rejected his asylum application last summer and flagged him as a potential terror threat, authorities patiently waited for Tunisia to produce the required paperwork before deporting him.

Just as the deportation was being finalized, Amri is believed to have hijacked a truck and rammed it into holiday crowds at a Berlin Christmas market.

Amri was shot dead by Italian police at train station in Milan.