This is the fifth time I’m writing this story within the last 13 months. This time, it hit my home.
On Tuesday evening, a truck plowed into a crowd at Berlin’s Weihnachtsmarkt, killing 12 people and injuring 48.
Here’s everything we know so far:
German police believe the suspect or suspects responsible could still be at large. Officers Tuesday night admitted they initially arrested the wrong suspect, a Pakistani-born asylum seeker. He was released without charges. Now, police are looking for Tunisian Anis Amri after finding an ID under the driver’s seat of the truck. The head of the Association of German Criminal Detectives, Andre Schultz, told a German television station that he’s confident police will arrest the new suspect in the near future.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. ISIS announced through its news agency that one of its “soldiers” had carried out the Berlin attack “in response to calls to target nationals of the coalition countries.” It’s still uncertain if the attacker was acting on behalf of the Islamic State, and, until such evidence emerges, it remains difficult to determine if this is merely an opportunistic claim by the group or something substantial. The incident, though, is reminiscent of the Bastille Day attacks carried out in Nice, France, when a Tunisian-born man rammed through a crowd of spectators.
Twelve people were killed and another 48 injured. Of those injured, 18 remain in “serious” condition. The Polish man found dead inside the truck was not the person who drove it into the market. According to reports, the man had been stabbed and shot but the weapons have not been found. Police reports indicate there was a fight between the Polish driver, 37-year-old Lukasz Urban.
The attack occurred at the Weihnachtsmarkt outside of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The popular market on Kurfurstendamm, the main shopping quarters in West Berlin, features more than 100 stalls selling traditional decorations, toys, food and drinks.
How will Germany—and the world—respond?
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, promises not to be “paralyzed by fear.” In response to the attacks, the German chancellor expressed Germany will continue to live free, together, and open, though, noting that it would be hard to bear if the person responsible for the attack were seeking asylum in Germany. German right wing politicians are already coming down hard on the chancellor and her “open door” policy, stating, “It is not only an attack on our freedom and our way of life, but on our Christian tradition. Germany is a country which is divided over the immigration question.”
The U.S. responds with condemnation. The White House condemned what it said “appears to have been a terrorist attack.” President-elect Donald Trump “Isis and other Islamist terrorists [who] continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship.”
How will Germany respond? Well, I can only hope the nation responds in the same way I did. Go to the Christmas market, enjoy a few Glühweins, and embrace the holiday season.
Tom is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.