Twelve people were killed in the horrendous truck attack in Berlin, and another 48 injured, 18 of them severely.
While it looks like an Islam extremist related attack there’s some uncertainty. Police arrested a Pakistani asylum seeker but admit he may not be the attacker.
German authorities say they cannot be sure if a man in custody was behind the truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people.
Police arrested a Pakistani asylum-seeker but have said he may not be the attacker and the real perpetrator could still be on the run.
The Pakistani man was captured in a park after reportedly fleeing the scene. He has denied involvement.
The 23-year-old arrived in Germany from Pakistan at the end of last year.
“According to my information it’s uncertain whether he was really the driver,” Police President Klaus Kandt told a news conference.
Berlin police tweeted that they were “particularly alert” because of the denial.
Die Welt newspaper quoted an unnamed police chief as saying: “We have the wrong man. And therefore a new situation. The true perpetrator is still armed, at large and can cause fresh damage.”
The truck belonged to a Polish freight company and its rightful driver was found dead in the vehicle. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said a pistol believed to have been used to kill him had not yet been found.
“We have to entertain the theory that the detainee might possibly not have been the perpetrator,” federal prosecutor Peter Frank told reporters.
The style of attack and the target suggested Islamic extremism, he said.
That’s an obvious assumption to make.
The attack makes things even more difficult for Angela Merkel, already having difficulty with the influx of refugees and asylum seekers into Germany.
Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters: “There is much we still do not know with sufficient certainty but we must, as things stand now, assume it was a terrorist attack.”
She added: “I know it would be especially hard for us all to bear if it were confirmed that the person who committed this act was someone who sought protection and asylum.”
The attack fuelled immediate demands for a change to Ms Merkel’s immigration policies, under which more than a million people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere have arrived in Germany this year and last.
“We must say that we are in a state of war, although some people, who always only want to see good, do not want to see this,” said Klaus Bouillon, interior minister of the state of Saarland and a member of Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).
Horst Seehofer, leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, said: “We owe it to the victims, to those affected and to the whole population to rethink our immigration and security policy and to change it.”
It’s not going to be easy to change things quickly. There are already a large number of immigrants in Germany, and Europe’s open borders make it easy for people intent on inflicting death and mayhem to move from country to country.
And when individuals or small numbers of Islamic terrorists launch successful attacks – and it’s impossible to prevent them completely – it raises tensions and makes things more difficult for the majority of Muslims who are not involved in extremist acts.