Berlin A tractor trailer barreled into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin on Monday night, killing 12 people and injuring 48 others. Witnesses said shoppers screamed and dropped packages and glasses of mulled wine as the truck plowed into the market.
Officials are investigating the crash as an act of terrorism, according to a German intelligence official familiar with the matter.
Authorities have apprehended the suspected driver, according to a police spokesman. Another person who was in the truck died at the scene, police tweeted.
Some of the 48 people in the hospital have serious injuries, Berlin police tweeted.
The crash occurred at Breitscheidplatz in the western part of central Berlin. The truck had Polish license plates, police spokeswoman Kerstin Ziesmer said.
Ariel Zurawski, owner of the truck company, told TVN 24, a private Polish television news network and CNN affiliate, the truck, carrying a steel shipment, may have been hijacked.
Zurawski said his cousin — the truck’s regular driver — couldn’t have been behind the wheel and wasn’t the man who ran from the scene.
“My scenario is that they did something to him and hijacked this truck,” he said.
Witness Emma Rushton told CNN that the truck didn’t slow down. She said the truck was traveling about 40 mph through the crowded pedestrian area.
“There’s no way it was an accident,” Rushton said. “We saw at least 10 people” injured and lying on the ground.
Trucks used as weapons of terror
While it was unclear whether the crash was an accident or an act of terrorism, it triggered memories of the use of trucks in attacks.
Julian Reichelt, editor in chief at German tabloid Bild, told CNN the incident “looks like something that was adapted by Nice,” referring to the Bastille Day truck attack in France that killed 86 people and injured more than 200 in July.
Terror groups have used the Internet to encourage followers in the West to use vehicles to stage attacks, according to CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.
Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch encouraged its recruits in the West in its 2010 webzine, Inspire, to use the trucks as a weapon in an article headlined “The Ultimate Mowing Machine,” Bergen wrote.
In September 2014, an ISIS spokesman similarly encouraged such attacks, saying of ISIS’ enemies, “Run him over with your car,” according to Bergen. Via : CNN