21 October 2018
Parts of a Christmas market decoration stick in the windscreen of a truck that plowed into a crowd on Breitscheidplatz square in Berlin on Monday night. Photo: Reuters
Parts of a Christmas market decoration stick in the windscreen of a truck that plowed into a crowd on Breitscheidplatz square in Berlin on Monday night. Photo: Reuters

Truck plows into German Christmas market; at least nine dead

A truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin on Monday evening, killing nine people and injuring up to 50 others, police said, in what appeared to be one of the deadliest attacks in Germany in decades.

Police said they had taken one suspect into custody and that another passenger from the truck had died as it crashed into people gathered around wooden huts serving mulled wine and sausages at the foot of the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church in the heart of west Berlin, Reuters reports.

“We heard a loud bang,” Emma Rushton, a tourist, told CNN. “We started to see the top of an articulated truck, a lorry … just crashing through the stalls, through people.”

The incident evoked memories of an attack in Nice, France in July when a Tunisian-born man drove a 19-ton truck along the beach front, mowing down people who had gathered to watch the fireworks on Bastille Day, killing 86 people. That attack was claimed by Islamic State.

Police at the scene told German media that the crash appeared to be a deliberate act.

A government spokesman said Chancellor Angela Merkel was being briefed by her interior minister and the Berlin mayor on the situation.

Police said there were no indications of further dangerous situations in the area and urged people to stay away from scene.

“I’m deeply shaken about the horrible news of what occurred at the memorial church in Berlin,” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. “Many people who visited the Christmas market today have died and even more are injured.”

The truck veered into the market at what would have been one of the most crowded times, when adults and children would be gathering in the traditional cluster of wooden huts that sell food and Christmas goods in an annual celebration replicated across Germany and much of Central Europe.

Police cars and ambulances converged quickly on the scene.

Rushton told CNN the truck seemed to be traveling at about 40 mph (65 kph).

In Zurich, a man stormed into a mosque on Monday evening and opened fire on people praying, injuring three, Reuters said, citing Swiss police.

They said they had collected evidence inside the building and would make more details available on Tuesday. They declined to comment on the potential motive.

Two of the three men – aged 30, 35 and 56 – were seriously injured in the attack shortly after 5:30 p.m. local time (12:30 a.m. Tuesday in Hong Kong) near the main train station in Switzerland’s financial capital, Zurich police said.

A third sustained less severe injuries. All three were brought to hospital.

The unidentified suspect, a man around 30 years old who according to witnesses was wearing dark clothing and a dark wool cap, fled the mosque, police said.

Police said a body was found nearby but would not comment on any link to the shootings while investigations continued.

People at the scene told Reuters the Islamic Center on Zurich’s Eisgasse was used as a mosque, often by Somalis.

– Contact us at [email protected]


EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe