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Berlin Christmas market truck crash: 12 dead in ‘apparent terrorist attack’ – live

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Christmas market attack ‘particularly repugnant’ if carried out by refugee, says Merkel – as it happened” was written by Matthew Weaver (now), Claire Phipps and Amber Jamieson (earlier), for theguardian.com on Tuesday 20th December 2016 12.05 UTC

We’ve started a new blog to cover the latest on the attack and investigation into the Pakistani suspect.

Updated

According to De Maizière, the suspect, Naved B, speaks Balochi, one of five regional languages spoken in Pakistan. De Maizière said there had been problems questioning him in the past because no translator could be found who spoke the language.

Updated

De Maizière also confirms that the man who has been arrested on suspicion of carrying out the attack has denied the charges.

The arrested man is from Pakistan, and arrived in Germany on 31 December 2015. He arrived in Berlin in February. The suspect spoke a dialect for which no translator could be found, the minister said.

De Maizière says he is not giving much attention to the Isis message claiming responsibility for the attack.

He confirms he will attend the vigil for the victims at 6pm in the memorial church on the square where the attack took place.

De Maizière said police will not rest until they have completed their investigation into the attack.

He urged once again for Christmas markets to remain open, but warned people to remain vigilant. He said it would be “a lovely idea to go to a Christmas market and buy a crib”.

Updated

De Maizière says the arrested man was not on any database for terror suspects. His application for asylum had not been completed, he adds.

The pistol used to shoot the dead passenger has not been found, De Maizière says.

Updated

De Maizière confirms that the suspect is believed to be from Pakistan. He did not have a record of terrorism, the minister says.

Updated

De Maizière says the driver fled the scene. One of the 12 people who died was found dead on the passenger seat of the truck. He was shot with a pistol, says De Maizière.

More details on the suspect will be provided later by prosecutors.

De Maizière says we “must not compromise our lifestyle, if we do that the enemies of freedom have already won”. He adds: “We are deeply saddened but we also fight for our freedom.”

He confirms that Christmas markets in Berlin will be closed today, but will be open in the rest of the Germany. “To simply stop would be wrong,” he said.

Updated

Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, is giving a press conference in Berlin. He said 18 people were “very seriously injured” in the attack, according to a BBC translation.

Updated

A spokesman for Berlin’s office for refugee affairs has confirmed that police conducted a search overnight at a large shelter for asylum seekers at the city’s defunct Tempelhof airport.

Four men in their late 20s were questioned but nobody was arrested, Sascha Langenbach told the Associated Press.

Updated

Germany’s public prosecutor, Peter Frank, is to give a press conference at 2.30pm local time (1.30pm GMT).

He will be joined by Berlin’s police chief Klaus Kandt.

Updated

A man who knew Naved B, the Pakistani man named by some German media reports as the suspect, said he is “just a normal guy”.

In her statement Merkel said she would visit the scene of the attack later today, together with Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, and the interior minster Thomas de Maizière.

A stream of politicians have been visiting the area.

Many commuters on their way to work have laid flowers and lit candles in the nearby Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church. The church was bombed in the second world war and was left in its damaged state as a memorial. It is known locally as “the jagged tooth”. People are queuing up to sign condolence books.

Forsenics and police work on the truck that crashed the evening before into a christmas market near Gedächtniskirche church
Police work on the truck that crashed into the Christmas market, near Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church. Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

Horst Seehofer
Horst Seehofer Photograph: Action Press/REX Shutterstock

Angela Merkel’s Bavarian political allies have called for a change to Germany’s immigration and security policy after the attack.

“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,” said Horst Seehofer, the leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, the sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

Updated

Summary

Here’s what we know so far:

  • The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said “we have to assume we are dealing with a terrorist attack” after a truck was driven into a Christmas market in Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz on Monday. “It would be particularly hard to bear for all of us if it was confirmed that a person committed this crime who asked for protection and asylum in Germany,” she said.
  • Twelve people were killed in the attack. A further 48 people have been taken to hospital with injuries, some of them are said to be fighting for their lives. Police said a man found dead inside the truck, identified as a Polish citizen, was not the person who drove it into the market. Witnesses said the truck drove into the market at speed, crushing people.
  • The suspect, arrested at the 2km from the scene, entered the country via the so-called Balkan refugee route earlier this year, according to unconfirmed German media reports. Die Welt newspaper is reporting that he is a 23-year-old man from Pakistan, and that he had a temporary residence permit since June 2016.
  • Early on Tuesday, police reportedly raided a hangar at the disused Tempelhof airport in southern Berlin, part of which is being used to house refugees.
  • Berlin police said they were investigating if the truck was stolen from a construction site in Poland. Other reports said it was returning to Poland from Italy. The Polish company that owns the truck said its 37-year-old driver, who was transporting steel beams, had been due to take a break in Berlin but had not been heard from since Monday afternoon.
  • The White House condemned what it said “appears to have been a terrorist attack”. The president-elect, Donald Trump, called it a “horrifying terror attack”, blaming “Isis and other Islamist terrorists [who] continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship”.
  • Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, said the attack was “savage in its cynicism”.
  • The rightwing populist party Alternative for Germany claimed the country’s Christian tradition was under attack. Frauke Petry, its main spokeswoman, said: “The Christmas market was not an accidental target. 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.”
  • Ukip’s former leader Nigel Farage said “events like these will be the Merkel legacy”.

Updated

The suspect had a temporary residence permit since June 2016, according to the German newspaper Die Welt, citing a police criminal report.

The report said that there continued to be a high threat from Islamic terrorism in Germany, but no concrete threat.

A German security source said the suspect was a 23-year-old migrant from Pakistan known to police for committing minor offences

Updated

The lorry used in the attack was taken away for examination about an hour ago, writes Kate Connolly.

The space left behind showed traces of blood, market stall canopies, a collapsed Christmas tree, broken bottles, and other debris.

The square, normally a busy Berlin intersection is eerily quiet, and continues to be cordoned off. Police are now examining the scene for further evidence.

The scene of the attack after a lorry smashed into a busy Christmas market in central Berlin.
The scene of the attack after a lorry smashed into a busy Christmas market in central Berlin. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

Merkel: attack ‘particularly repugnant’ if carried out by refugee

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a statement the day after a man drove a truck into a crowded Christmas market
German chancellor Angela Merkel gives statement on Tuesday after truck driven into crowded Christmas market. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Here’s more of Merkel’s statement:

“Twelve people, who were looking forward to Christmas and had plans for the festive season, are no longer among us. It is a terrible deed which one cannot understand. Many people who were injured are fighting for their lives. In these hours our first thoughts are for these people – the dead, the injured, their families, their friends.

“The whole of the country is with you in deep sadness … many pray for you.

“I have great trust in the men and women that have worked since last night on solving this heinous deed. It will be solved, in every detail, and it will be punished, as severely as our laws demand. For now, there is little we know of this deed with certainty.

“But given the current information we have, we have to assume we are dealing with a terrorist attack. I know that it would be particularly hard to bear for all of us if it was confirmed that a person committed this crime who asked for protection and asylum in Germany. This would be particularly repugnant in the face of the many many Germans who have dedicated themselves day after day to helping refugees, and in the face of the many people who actually need our protection and try to integrate into our country.

“I’m in constant contact with the minister of interior, De Maizière, with the president, and with the mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller. The security cabinet will convene in a few hours.

“Together with the mayor and the minister of the interior I will go to the Breitscheidplatz in the afternoon in order to pay our respects. Millions of people, including me, are asking how can someone take so many lives when we are celebrating life in the festive season. I don’t have an answer to this. We do not want to allow ourselves to be paralysed by terror. Although it might be difficult we will find the strength to continue living life as we want to live it in Germany – in freedom, openness and together.”

Updated

Merkel added: “This unspeakable act will be as severely punished as the law will allow.”

Updated

Merkel says she will visit the scene of the attack after meeting her cabinet.

Assumption is that this was a terror attack – Merkel

“We must assume it was a terrorist attack,” Merkel says.

Updated

Angela Merkel is giving a statement in Berlin. She described the attack as a “terrible deed”, according a translation on Sky News. She said many of the injured were fighting for their lives. Merkel also thanked the emergency services and said she had a “deep trust” in those investigating the attack.

Updated

Christmas markets will stay closed today in memory of victims of last night’s attack, Germany’s interior ministry has announced.

World leaders, including Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, and Belgium’s prime minister, Charles Michel, have continued to express their horror at the attack and pass on their sympathy to the families of the victims.

Putin said: “This crime against peaceful civilians is shocking in its savage cynicism.” He has written to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and president, Joachim Gauck, according to a statement on the Kremlin’s website.

Updated

Met police reviewing protection plans

London’s Metropolitan police say they are reviewing their plans for protecting public events over the Christmas period in light of both the Berlin attack and the assassination in Ankara of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey.

A statement said: “The Metropolitan police has detailed plans for protecting public events over the Christmas and New Year period. These already recognise that the [terrorist] threat level is at ‘severe’, meaning an attack is highly likely, and have considered a range of threats, including the use of large vehicles.

“As a matter of routine, as a precaution, we review our plans after attacks overseas, and we are doing so at present following the awful incidents in Berlin and Ankara last night.”

Updated

There is an unconfirmed report that one of the 12 people killed in the attack was shot, presumed to be the Polish passenger in the truck. The report, in the German magazine Focus, cites Brandenburg’s interior minister, Karl-Heinz Schröter.

Updated

AfD says Germany’s Christian tradition is under attack

The right-wing populist Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) has claimed Germany is no longer safe and that its Christian tradition is under attack, writes Kate Connolly.

Frauke Petry
Frauke Petry Photograph: Kay Nietfeld/EPA

In a statement Frauke Petry, the party’s chair, said:

Terror has now arrived in our midst. The radical Islamic terror has hit us right in the middle of Germany. A lorry weighing several tonnes was deliberately steered into a crowd of people. Dozens of people looking forward to Christmas and wanting to celebrate have been crushed and some of them very seriously injured.

We cannot be under any illusion. The milieu in which such crimes are able to thrive has been imported here systematically over the past one and a half years.

This incident is not singular and will happen again. We only need to look to France to know that. The Christmas market was not an accidental target. 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. But the terror will bring us together. These terrorists are godless people.

Petry added that she wants Germany’s borders to be controlled again, without exception. She added that “mosques in which jihad is preached have to be closed … All Muslims who call our country their homeland will welcome such steps.

“Germany is no longer safe. It is the duty of the German chancellor to communicate this … But I tell you, she won’t do this.”

Updated

There is an unconfirmed report in the German tabloid Bild that the suspected attacker was a 23-year-old from Pakistan named Naved B.

Bild said the man arrived in Germany about a year ago.

Updated

Merkel to give a statement

German chancellor Angela Merkel is due to make a statement about the attack at 11am (1000 GMT) according to reports.

Updated

Suspect believed to be Pakistani – German media

German media is reporting that the suspect, according to unnamed German authorities, entered the country via the so-called Balkan refugee route earlier this year.

His exact identity is not known, and it is being reported that he has held several identities. Die Welt newspaper is reporting that he came from Pakistan.

Police stormed the refugee centre housed in the hangar at the disused Tempelhof airport at 4am local time, as that is where the suspected attacker was reported to have been registered.

Stephan Mayer
Stephan Mayer Photograph: Public domain/PUBLIC DOMAIN

Stephan Mayer, home affairs spokesperson for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, acknowledged the attacker could have come to Germany as a refugee.

But speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he said it was too early to draw conclusions about Merkel’s immigration policy.

He said: “There are clear hints that there is a terrorist background of this horrible attack. There are rumours that the attacker was either Pakistani or Afghan and he made it as a refugee to Germany, either last year or this year, and he lived for a long period of time in Berlin in a refugee camp.”

Mayer added: “It would be absolutely unfair now to draw any conclusions before all the facts lay on the table. We had a period of time especially in the autumn of 2015 in which there was an uncontrolled and unregistered influx to Germany of approximately 900,000 refugees and asylum seekers. This was a period of mis-control of not controlling our borders. But we amended very intensively our German federal law.”

Asked how the attack would impact next year’s election in Germany, Mayer said: “Certainly we will have a very emotional debate about the refugee policy and this horrible attack means a new dimension of terrorism in Germany. German citizens are not used to such events. We will have very intensive and lively debates in the next weeks and months. But we should keep a cool head now. It is is too early to draw any conclusions from this case. No one knows if he worked for himself or part of a network. It is not clear if he had any colleagues.”

Mayer added: “No one knows if he [the attacker] was registered in the right way and if he was an Islamist and it is not clear yet, but there are hints that he has an Islamist background, if his radicalisation proceeded in Germany or if he already came as an Islamist to Germany. That’s all not clear yet.”

Updated

Have you been affected by the Berlin Christmas market attack?

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Please think about your security first when recording and sharing your content. We’ll use your accounts as part of our ongoing coverage.

Updated

Ukip’s former leader Nigel Farage is blowing his dog whistle again. He claimed “events like these will be the Merkel legacy”.

German government prosecutors have taken over responsibility for investigating the Breitscheidplatz attack.

Updated

What we know so far

  • Police have confirmed that they are treating an incident at Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz on Monday night as a “presumed terrorist attack”, saying they are working on the assumption that a truck was “intentionally” driven into a Christmas market.
  • Twelve people are confirmed to have died after a truck ploughed into crowds at around 8.15pm (7.15pm GMT) on Monday evening.
  • A further 48 people have been taken to hospital with injuries, some of them serious. Eyewitnesses said the truck drove into the market at speed, crushing visitors.
  • A suspect was arrested 2km from the scene and is being interrogated. No details of his identity have been released. Police said they would hold a press conference at 1pm Tuesday (noon GMT).
  • Early on Tuesday morning, police reportedly raided a hangar at the disused Tempelhof airport in southern Berlin, part of which is currently housing refugees.
Police stand in front of the truck that ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital on Monday night.
Police stand in front of the truck that ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital on Monday night. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters
  • Police said a man found dead inside the truck, identified as a Polish citizen, was not the person who drove it into the market.
  • The Polish company that owns the truck said its 37-year-old driver, who was transporting steel beams, had been due to take a break in Berlin but had not been heard from since early Monday afternoon.
  • Berlin police said they were investigating if the truck was stolen from a construction site in Poland, but other reports said it was returning to Poland from Italy.
  • The White House condemned what it said “appears to have been a terrorist attack”. US president-elect Donald Trump called it a “horrifying terror attack”, blaming “Isis and other Islamist terrorists [who] continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship”.
  • But Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, urged caution:

There is a psychological effect in the whole country of the choice of words here, and we want to be very, very cautious and operate close to the actual investigation results, not with speculation.

I’m now handing over the live blog to my colleague Matthew Weaver in London, who’ll continue to update with the latest developments.

Updated

Thomas de Maizière, the interior minister, has ordered that flags fly at half-mast across Germany today. The ruling applies to all official buildings.

The boss of Germany’s police trade union, Oliver Malchow, has told Bavarian Broadcasting that it would never be possible to have “100% security” at the country’s 2,500 Christmas markets, which take place “at least twice a week” in every German town.

Updated

The UK’s shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, has expressed solidarity with those affected by the attack in Berlin:

Our thoughts are with all those killed and injured in the horrific incident in Berlin, and with their families. We stand united in sorrow and solidarity with all the people of Germany, as well as with all those affected by today’s attacks in Switzerland and Turkey.

Christmas is above all a time for peace and togetherness, and if what we have seen in Berlin and elsewhere today are shown to be deliberate, terrorist attacks, let us remember that our peace and togetherness are exactly what these evil individuals are trying to destroy, and that we must never let them succeed in that aim.

Let us prove instead that – by people of all nations, creeds and colours standing strong together – we can defeat all those who simply want to sow war, division and hate.

Updated

Die Welt has reported that at around 4am (3am GMT) police special commandos stormed a hangar at the disused Tempelhof airport in southern Berlin.

No further details are yet available.

Part of the vast Tempelhof complex – one of the largest building complexes in the world, mainly of Nazi construction – is currently being used as a refugee centre.

Updated

It was only as dawn approached on Tuesday that Berlin police confirmed they were investigating the crash that has killed 12 people and wounded 48 as a “suspected terror attack”. In a series of tweets, officials said:

Our investigators are working on the assumption that the truck was intentionally driven into the crowd at the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz.

All police measures concerning the suspected terror attack at Breitscheidplatz are being taken with great speed and the necessary care.

Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, had earlier urged caution:

I don’t want to use the word ‘attack’ yet at the moment, although a lot speaks for it.

There is a psychological effect in the whole country of the choice of words here, and we want to be very, very cautious and operate close to the actual investigation results, not with speculation.

The US state department issued a warning in November for American travellers in Europe, specifically advising caution during “the upcoming holiday season and associated events”, including markets:

The department of state alerts US citizens to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, particularly during the holiday season. US citizens should exercise caution at holiday festivals, events, and outdoor markets …

US citizens should also be alert to the possibility that extremist sympathisers or self-radicalised extremists may conduct attacks during this period with little or no warning. Terrorists may employ a wide variety of tactics, using both conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests.

Vigils will be held today for the 12 people killed in the attack on the Christmas market.

From 11am (10am GMT), members of the public are invited to the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church, at the scene of the devastation, to sign a book of condolence.

Archbishop Heiner Koch will lead mass at the Catholic Cathedral of St Hedwig’s in Berlin at midday (11am GMT).

And at 6pm a vigil will take place at the memorial church.

A police vehicle blocks the entrance to Breitscheidplatz and the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church.
A police vehicle blocks the entrance to Breitscheidplatz and the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church. Photograph: Bernd von Jutrczenka/EPA

Updated

A report from Polish business news site money.pl says the firm that owns the truck used in the Berlin attack has been able to glean some information about its movements from satellite tracking.

The report cites an employee saying “someone was turning the vehicle on and off as if they were trying to get it going” before it travelled to the market at Breitscheidplatz.

Łukasz Wąsik, the company’s transport manager, is quoted as saying:

We have no information what is happening with our driver. In the media, it’s reported that there were two people in the cabin. We only have one person there, who was going to Berlin and was supposed to unload there.

Money.pl reports that Wąsik checked the tracking for the Scania lorry:

At 15.44 someone tried to turn it on. Over the next hour nothing happened. The next attempt to get it started took place at 16.52 and the engine turned over until 17.37. In that time, the vehicle did not move. Apparently there were several more attempts. Then the lorry began moving at 19.34 and moved from Berlin.

It was not being turned on in order to warm the engine and the cabin because the drivers were cold. That uses another system. It looks like someone was trying to learn how to drive this vehicle and had difficulties getting it moving.

Berlin police have said they are investigating the possible theft of the lorry; they have so far not released any details of tracking or the truck’s movements before it arrived at Breitscheidplatz.

Updated

Philippe Pradal, the mayor of Nice, where an attacker mowed down dozens of people with a truck on Bastille Day, killing 86, has tweeted about the apparent similarities between Nice and Berlin.

He says: “Same modus operandi. Same blind violence. Same hatred of happy people. More than ever, fight against obscurantism.”

A police press conference is to take place at 1pm local time (noon GMT) on Tuesday at which more details will be given.

The lorry is due to be transported from the scene to be taken for more forensic tests.

The scene of the incident remains one of devastation, still strewn with the remains of collapsed market stalls, broken Christmas decorations, bottles, and the silver sheets used to cover the victims. Police have appealed to bystanders not to take photos of the dead out of respect.

There will be a vigil at 6pm at the memorial church (Gedächtnis Kirche), a popular monument in Berlin known locally as the jagged tooth, close to where the juggernaut came to a halt.

The scene where a truck crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin.
The scene where a truck crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin. Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA

Updated

What we know so far

  • Police have confirmed that they are treating an incident at Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz on Monday night as a “presumed terrorist attack”, saying they are working on the assumption that a truck was “intentionally” driven into a Christmas market.
  • Twelve people are confirmed to have died after a truck ploughed into crowds at around 8.15pm (7.15pm GMT) on Monday evening.
  • A further 48 people have been taken to hospital with injuries, some of them serious. Eyewitnesses said the truck drove into the market at speed, crushing visitors.
  • A suspect was arrested 2km from the scene and is being interrogated. No details of his identity have been released. Police said they would hold a press conference at 1pm Tuesday (noon GMT).
  • Police said a man found dead inside the truck, identified as a Polish citizen, was not the person who drove it into the market.
  • The Polish company that owns the truck said its driver had been due to take a break in Berlin but had not been heard from since early Monday afternoon.
  • Berlin police said they were investigating if the truck was stolen from a construction site in Poland, but other reports said it was returning to Poland from Italy.
  • The White House condemned what it said “appears to have been a terrorist attack”. US president-elect Donald Trump called it a “horrifying terror attack”, blaming “Isis and other Islamist terrorists [who] continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship”.
  • But Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, urged caution:

There is a psychological effect in the whole country of the choice of words here, and we want to be very, very cautious and operate close to the actual investigation results, not with speculation.

Updated

No details have yet been released about the identities of the 12 people known to have been killed in Berlin.

A man found dead in the truck has been ruled out by police as the driver at the time of the attack. Police say he was a Polish citizen.

The Polish delivery company that owned the vehicle said it lost touch with the driver at 4pm local time after it left the country for Berlin.

Owner Ariel Zurawki said he feared the vehicle, driven by his cousin, might have been hijacked. He told the Polish news outlet TVN24: “They must have done something to my driver.”

Updated

Berlin police say they will be moving the truck from the Breitscheidplatz to secure the evidence and for forensic testing.

They ask people not to distribute photos of the move, “out of respect”.

Police have now confirmed that they are treating events in Berlin as “presumed terrorism” and are working on the assumption that the truck was “intentionally” driven into the crowd.

Thomas de Maizière, Germany’s interior minister, said earlier on Monday night that officials were being cautious in labelling it as a terror attack:

We are interrogating a suspect. We don’t know anything yet about the background but we won’t rest until this has been totally clarified.

I don’t want to talk about an attack, though much points to it.

Police: crash was ‘presumed terrorist attack’

Berlin police are now calling this a “presumed terrorist attack”:

Police: truck ‘intentionally’ driven into crowd

Berlin police say their investigation is now working on the assumption that the truck was deliberately driven into the Christmas market:

The mayors of London and Paris have expressed their solidarity with Berlin:

The Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz fell silent as the truck came to a halt, an eyewitness has told Press Association:

Jan Hollitzer, 36, said he heard screams as the vehicle made its way through the stalls, but that the market was “really silent” as “shocked” shoppers looked on at the aftermath.

Hollitzer, deputy editor-in-chief of local news outlet Berliner Morgenpost, said he saw “more than one” person lying underneath the truck.

He was standing between 40 and 50 metres away from the Berlin City Weihnachtsmarkt at Breitschiedplatz when the incident happened.

“First, I heard a noise, then he destroyed the booths on the market and we heard some screams, and then the truck came out of the market on the left side.”

Hollitzer said he walked across the street to the market and saw destroyed stalls, broken glass, crockery and tables, and injured people lying on the ground.

“I moved forward and saw the back of the truck – it was a lorry,” he said.

“There were some people under the truck and it was really scary, really terrifying.

“I moved on the street to see the front of the truck, which was destroyed.”

Hollitzer, who lives in Berlin, said it became “more noisy” as emergency services arrived at the scene and the initial shock of onlookers subsided.

Candles and flowers near the site where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Berlin Christmas market.
Candles and flowers near the site where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Berlin Christmas market. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Updated

What we know so far

  • Twelve people are confirmed to have died after a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market at Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz at around 8pm on Monday evening.
  • A further 48 people have been taken to hospital with injuries, some of them serious. Eyewitnesses said the truck drove into the market at speed, crushing visitors.
  • A suspect was arrested 2km from the scene and is being interrogated. No details of his identity have been released.
  • Police said a man found dead inside the truck, identified as a Polish citizen, was not the person who drove it into the market.
  • The Polish company that owns the truck said its driver had been due to take a break in Berlin but had not been heard from since early Monday afternoon.
  • Berlin police have said they suspect the truck was stolen from a construction site in Poland, but other reports said it was returning to Poland from Italy.
  • Officials have not confirmed a motive for the deadly incident, but a statement from the White House said it “appears to have been a terrorist attack”.
  • US president-elect Donald Trump called it a “horrifying terror attack”, blaming “Isis and other Islamist terrorists [who] continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship”.
  • But Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, urged caution:

I don’t want to use the word ‘attack’ yet at the moment, although a lot speaks for it.

There is a psychological effect in the whole country of the choice of words here, and we want to be very, very cautious and operate close to the actual investigation results, not with speculation.

Updated

Some updated information from Berlin police: according to the information so far, the Polish man found dead inside the truck was not the person who drove it into the Christmas market.

Berlin police now say the man found dead inside the truck – whom they earlier identified as Polish – was not the driver.

It is not at this stage clear whether they mean that he was not the person who drove the truck into the market, or if they are ruling him out as the original Polish driver.

Edit: this post was edited to remove a tweet deleted by Berlin police. A further tweet clarified that the dead man was not thought to have driven the truck into the market.

Updated

Timeline

The sequence of events is not yet fully known, but here is what we know so far about the events of Monday and its aftermath:

Monday afternoon

This is when the Polish owner of the lorry said he last heard from his driver. The company’s transport manager, Lukasz Wasik, said the driver was 37 and had been transporting Thyssen steel products from Italy to Berlin.

“The company where he was supposed to unload the products in Berlin was not able to receive them and told him to return on Tuesday morning. They told him to wait in Berlin somewhere,” Wasik told AFP.

Monday 8pm

Around 8 pm (7pm GMT) a truck drove at speed into a busy Christmas market at Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz. Twelve people were killed, including a man inside the truck, who police confirmed was Polish. The identities of the other 11 have not been released.

A further 48 people were injured, some severely, and taken to hospital.

Aftermath

A man suspected of being at the wheel of the truck as it ploughed into the market was arrested 2km from the scene after eyewitnesses gave police a description of a person leaving the vehicle after the crash.

He was detained and is being interrogated, police said, but no further details of his identity or the circumstances of the crash have been given by officials.

Tuesday

Police are due to hold a press conference at 1pm on Tuesday (noon GMT).

Updated

Doctors treating patients across Berlin are reporting a high number of fractures and internal injuries, including internal bleeding and damaged organs, among the 48 wounded.

One doctor said operations would be going on through the night, with a number of the injured in a life-threatening state.

Many people are in deep shock, medics said.

Breitscheidplatz is one of Berlin’s busiest shopping areas, particularly at this time of year when Christmas markets are in full swing.

Police said the lorry came from the direction of Budapester Strasse, over the pavement, before coming to a halt by a Christmas tree in front of the Kaiser Wilhelm church.

Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz

In the hours after the tragedy, police stated repeatedly that they did not yet know whether it had been a tragic accident or a sinister attack. A group of stallholders on the southern side of the market were convinced they had heard police say the truck’s driver had simply fallen asleep at the wheel. How could anyone want to deliberately crash a truck into such a scene of peace?

But as midnight drew near and more details emerged in the aftermath of the crash – with the person thought to be the driver arrested after reportedly fleeing the scene into nearby Tiergarten – it became harder and harder to avoid seeing a motive behind Monday night’s deadly rampage.

Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, said: “I do not want to use the word the terrorism yet. But many things point in that direction.”

Police investigators inspect the truck that ploughed through a Berlin Christmas market.
Police investigators inspect the truck that ploughed through a Berlin Christmas market. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Updated

Police have so far released no details about the identity of the man arrested.

Police spokesman Winfried Wenzel said the man was being interrogated, after he was picked up by officers about 2km away from the Breitscheidplatz.

The next scheduled police press conference is at 1pm on Tuesday (noon GMT).

Police: dead man in truck is Polish citizen

Berlin police say the person found dead inside the truck is a Polish citizen.

The truck is Polish-registered and the driver – who has not yet been named – was due to be taking a rest-break in Berlin. Colleagues said they had not heard from him since early on Monday afternoon.

The Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, says authorities are on alert after events in Berlin.

German police have not yet confirmed any motive or explanation for the truck crash that has killed 12 people, but the White House earlier referred to it as an apparent terror attack.

Turnbull told reporters:

We are very attentive to events internationally to ensure that we learn from them and make sure that we put measures in place to anticipate similar occurrences here.

We are intensifying the steps that we have already set in place to ensure that we have the protective measures to respond to attacks such as that that we’ve seen in Berlin.

I can reassure Australians that we have the finest police and security forces in the world, we are keenly focused on keeping Australians safe, whether they are at a market or a New Year’s Eve celebration, wherever they may be.

Nonetheless, we cannot mitigate all risk entirely.

Updated

What we know so far

  • Twelve people are now confirmed to have died after a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market at Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz at around 8pm on Monday evening.
  • A further 48 people have been taken to hospital with injuries, some of them serious.
  • One suspect has been arrested and police say they are investigating whether he was driving the truck.
  • Eyewitnesses said the truck ploughed into the market at speed, crushing people and stalls.
  • One person was found dead inside the truck, which was Polish-registered. The company that owns the truck said its driver had been due to take a break in Berlin but had not been heard from since early Monday afternoon.
  • Berlin police have said they suspect the truck was stolen from a construction site in Poland, but other reports said it was returning to Poland from Italy.
  • Police have not confirmed a motive for the deadly incident, but a statement from the White House said it “appears to have been a terrorist attack”.
  • US president-elect Donald Trump called it a “horrifying terror attack”, blaming “Isis and other Islamist terrorists [who] continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship”.
  • But Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, urged caution:

I don’t want to use the word ‘attack’ yet at the moment, although a lot speaks for it.

There is a psychological effect in the whole country of the choice of words here, and we want to be very, very cautious and operate close to the actual investigation results, not with speculation.

Italy’s foreign minister, Angelino Alfano, has said he is “deeply stricken and pained” by the deaths in Berlin, Associated Press reports:

Though German police say it is too early to call whether the incident was intentional, Alfano refers to it as an attack.

In a statement provided by Italy’s foreign ministry, Alfano expresses closeness to Germans “in this sad moment that instead should be of joy and peace in the approach to the Christmas holidays”.

Alfano says such attacks “won’t change our determination to combat terrorism” alongside international partners and in particular Germany, saying the two countries are in strict coordination.

Separately, Italy’s ambassador in Berlin, Pietro Benassi, told Italian state TV that German authorities couldn’t say yet if any foreigners were among the victims.

Police: 12 people confirmed dead

Twelve people are now confirmed to have died, with 48 injured:

By midnight, as streets all around the German capital were still echoing with the sound of sirens, an unreal calm had descended upon Breitscheidplatz in the heart of Berlin’s central shopping district. Christmas lights were still sparkling, and groups of tourists ambled down the Kurfürstendamm boulevard, seemingly unaware as to why armed police officers were ushering them along.

The dark-blue truck that had ploughed through the northern edge of the square’s busy Christmas market at around 8pm – killing at least nine and injuring around 50 – was resting lopsided on the pavement, with only its smashed window pane and a mangled Christmas tree beneath the vehicle’s wheels telling of the force of its deadly ride.

Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, who visited the scene shortly after 9pm, spoke for many in the city when he admitted concerns that his worst nightmare had turned into a reality: “We hope our fears that this is an attack won’t prove true.”

Some of Berlin’s Christmas markets, such as the one on Gendarmenmarkt, have set up security cordons in recent years. Others have banned rucksacks, encouraged stallholders to be more watchful and ordered plain-clothed policemen to mingle with the crowds.

But for the market on Breitscheidplatz – encircled by some of the city’s busier multi-lane arteries – that had never been an option. Instead, organisers had tried to make a virtue of the market’s “barrier free” nature, advertising it as the perfect place to drop into after a spot of Christmas shopping. A mini ferris wheel, two carousels and numerous stalls selling sweets were meant to entice children.

Updated

The German federal president, Joachim Gauck, has issued a statement:

In my thoughts I am with the victims, with their families and with all those who fear for the safety of their friends and relatives.

I thank the emergency services and the security forces for their hard work.

A spokesman for the Berlin police confirmed they have arrested a suspect:

We’ve had a description of the driver, who was on the run at first.

Because of this description, one suspect could be arrested.

We are now investigating whether the arrested person is actually the driver of the truck.

The suspect was arrested nearby, a few hundred metres away from the scene of the attack.

German police confirm arrest of Breitscheidplatz truck crash suspect.

Witnesses at the Breitscheidplatz have been speaking of the moment the truck sped into crowds browsing the Christmas market.

Australian Trisha O’Neill told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

We sat just behind the stall having a mulled wine and then all of a sudden there was a big boom.

I just saw this huge black truck speeding through the markets crushing so many people and then all the lights went out and everything was destroyed.

I could hear screaming and then we all froze. Then suddenly people started to move and lift all the wreckage off people, trying to help whoever was there … [there was] blood and bodies everywhere.

People, including children and older people, weren’t moving. People were crying and I just burst into tears. All the police and ambulances came and we decided to walk away from the streets and go somewhere safe.

I’m shaking and scared. It all just happened so fast.

Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, has said he is not yet ready to call the incident at Breitscheidplatz an “attack” but added that there are indications that it was intentional.

He told ARD television:

I don’t want to use the word ‘attack’ yet at the moment, although a lot speaks for it.

There is a psychological effect in the whole country of the choice of words here, and we want to be very, very cautious and operate close to the actual investigation results, not with speculation.

The Polish company that owns the truck has said its driver is missing. Its transport manager, Lukasz Wasik, told AFP news agency that the driver is 37 years old and had been transporting Thyssen steel products from Italy to Berlin.

The company where he was supposed to unload the products in Berlin was not able to receive them and told him to return on Tuesday morning. They told him to wait in Berlin somewhere.

We lost contact with him around 3pm local time [2pm GMT]. We don’t know what happened – whether he was taken hostage, killed. We know nothing. We’re very worried about him.

What a tragedy.

Trump statement blames ‘Islamist terrorists’

US president-elect Donald Trump has issued a statement on the events in Berlin, which he calls a “horrifying terror attack”:

Our hearts and prayers are with the loved ones of the victims of today’s horrifying terror attack in Berlin. Innocent civilians were murdered in the streets as they prepared to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

Isis and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad.

These terrorists and their regional and worldwide networks must be eradicated from the face of the earth, a mission we will carry out with all freedom-loving partners.

German police have not yet confirmed whether the crash was deliberate, or attributed responsibility, but a White House statement earlier said it “appears to have been a terrorist attack”.

Police: 45 wounded taken to hospitals

Rescue work at the site has concluded. The official death toll still stands at nine.

Police say 45 people have been taken to Berlin hospitals for treatment.

Police: truck ‘stolen in Poland’

Berlin police have said they suspect the truck was stolen from a construction site in Poland. Investigations into what happened to the truck – and its driver – are ongoing.

They say a suspicious item that was earlier being investigated has been cleared as a sleeping bag,

What we know so far

  • Nine people have died and many more are injured after a truck ran into a crowded Christmas market at Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz on Monday evening.
  • A suspect believed to have been the driver has been arrested.
  • Police have not confirmed a motive for the deadly incident, but a statement from the White House said it “appears to have been a terrorist attack”.
  • The lorry, which was loaded with steel beams, was Polish-owned. Company owner Ariel Zurawski said the driver was his cousin and had been due to stop in Berlin for a break. He said he had not heard from the driver since around noon on Monday.
  • One person inside the truck is confirmed to have died.
  • The US state department issued a warning in November for travellers in Europe of a heightened risk of terror attacks at Christmas-related events, including markets, by Isis, al-Qaida and affiliates.
Christmas market decoration in the windscreen of the truck that crashed into Breitscheidplatz.
Christmas market decoration in the windscreen of the truck that crashed into Breitscheidplatz. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Updated

A number of videos have emerged showing the immediate aftermath of the truck ramming into the crowd at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market.

One 10-minute video, which we’re choosing not to link to, shows bodies lying on the ground and the wreckage of market stalls. People are tending to the injured, with Christmas decorations and lights scattered around them. The person filming the video walks through the market, showing the path of wreckage, then the damaged truck, surrounded by police.

The 18-wheeler truck, which was towing a large trailer, has a smashed windscreen. The passenger in the truck (it is unknown what role, if any, they had in the incident) died in the crash. Ambulances and police surround the area.

Updated

The Berlin police just confirmed that there were steel beams on the “load plattform”, which we believe is a slightly garbled English translation for the truck’s trailer.

Updated

French president François Hollande tweeted his condolences to Germany:

“I express my solidarity and compassion to Chancellor Merkel, to the German people and to the families of the victims of Berlin,” he wrote.

Mike Fox, a British tourist, has just told the N24 television channel that he had gone to the market and was drinking glühwein (mulled wine) with his girlfriend when the lorry sped towards them. He said he saw nothing that would have prevented it from ploughing into the market.

Updated

The truck, manufactured by Scania, is believed to have been loaded with steel when it left Italy for Berlin, which according to transport experts would have made it even more deadly.

Updated

Berlin police tweeted that they have blocked a nearby street to the Breitscheidplatz incident to “check a suspicious item”.

The street it is referring to, Rankestrasse, runs directly to the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church, which is where the truck ran into the Christmas market, leaving at least nine dead.

Updated

White House condemns ‘what appears to have been a terrorist attack’

A statement from the White House condemns “what appears to have been a terrorist attack” in Berlin, and noting that the US government has been in touch with German officials and offers assistance as required.

The statement by National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price reads in full:

The United States condemns in the strongest terms what appears to have been a terrorist attack on a Christmas Market in Berlin, Germany, which has killed and wounded dozens. We send our thoughts and prayers to the families and loved ones of those killed, just as we wish a speedy recovery to all of those wounded. We also extend our heartfelt condolences to the people and government of Germany. We have been in touch with German officials, and we stand ready to provide assistance as they recover from and investigate this horrific incident. Germany is one of our closest partners and strongest allies, and we stand together with Berlin in the fight against all those who target our way of life and threaten our societies.

German chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted that Merkel was in contact with the interior minister and mayor about the “shocking” news of the Christmas market truck crash.

“We mourn the dead and hope that the many people injured can be helped,” he wrote.

Polish owner of Berlin truck says driver ‘missing’

The Polish owner of the truck that ploughed into the Berlin Christmas market, killing at least nine people, confirmed to the AFP that his driver was missing.

“We haven’t heard from him since this afternoon. We don’t know what happened to him. He’s my cousin, I’ve known him since I was a kid. I can vouch for him,” transport company owner Ariel Zurawski told AFP.

Reuters reports that Zurawski fears the truck may have been hijacked. He said he last spoke with his cousin around noon. His cousin told him he was in Berlin and was scheduled to unload the truck on Tuesday morning. The incident at the Berlin Christmas market took place on Monday evening.

Zurawski told TVN24 that “they must have done something to my driver”.

Updated

Illuminated booths are seen during the opening of the Christmas market in Frankfurt Main, Germany.
Illuminated booths are seen during the opening of the Christmas market in Frankfurt Main, Germany. Photograph: Frank Rumpenhorst/EPA

Berlin correspondent Kate Connolly on the phenomenon of German Christmas markets:

Nothing epitomizes a German Christmas better than the Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas market. The most famous are in Nuremberg and Dresden, but Berlin alone boasts around 60, and thousands of others take place between the end of November and Christmas, a reflection of how seriously Germans take their Christmas.

At a time of year when the cold can be biting, the Christmas market is a respite, attracting young and old alike, from families to work colleagues, for whom it’s a popular place to gather for a pre-Christmas drink.

Glühwein – literally “glow wine” or mulled wine – is the staple drink. There is also a Feuerzangenbowle or rum punch, involving pouring hot rum on to a spit of solid sugar until it melts. Food on offer includes hot chestnuts, ginger biscuits, roasted almonds, fried sausages and candied fruits.

In lit-up wooden stalls, craftspeople sell their wares – everything from bespoke brushes and sheepskin rugs to designer jewellery and artisan cheeses. There are tight quality controls on the produce.

The Christmas markets have become one of Germany’s most popular cultural exports, with market organisers selling their concepts to cities across Britain and the United States. In cities such as Birmingham and Leeds, where German craftsmen are dispatched to build the wooden stalls, they have become popular events in the Christmas calendar over the past decade.

They have long been seen as a soft target for terrorists. Some in Berlin, such as the Gendarmenmarkt, have set up tight security cordons in recent years and charge an entry fee, offering the promise of tightened security. Others, like that on Breitscheidplatz, which is right in the centre of the main shopping boulevard in the western centre of the city, have boasted of their openness.

Updated

If anyone you know is missing following the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market incident, Berlin police have a phone number available to call.

Here are some photos from the scene:

Paramedics and firefighters talk beside a truck at a Christmas market in Berlin.
Paramedics and firefighters talk beside a truck at a Christmas market in Berlin. Photograph: Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters
A policeman inspects the truck that crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin.
A policeman inspects the truck that crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images
Rescue workers inspect the scenes and the truck that crashed into a Christmas market, close to the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church in Berlin, Germany.
Rescue workers inspect the truck that crashed into a Christmas market, close to the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church. Photograph: Paul Zinken/EPA

Updated

Summary

Just a recap of what we know so far:

  • Nine people have been killed and up to 50 others injured after a truck rammed into a busy Christmas market in Breitscheidplatz, Berlin, according to police.
  • Police arrested one suspect found nearby, although it is uncertain if they were the driver. The passenger of the truck, sometimes described as a “co-driver,” died at the scene.
  • It is unknown if the event was an accident or a deliberate attack.
  • The US state department had issued a travel warning in November noting that it had “credible information” of terror attacks at Christmas and against holiday events, including Christmas markets.
  • Police have asked locals to stay away from the scene and avoid posting videos of the incident online.

Updated

My colleague Kate Connolly has noted that the main website of Berlin tourism, Visit Berlin, offers an explanation of what the Breitscheidplatz market consists of:

You know it’s the festive season when the area around the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church starts smelling of roasted almonds, hot chocolate and mulled wine. More than 100 booths add a seasonal touch at this traditional Christmas market in the heart of City West.

Located on the festively decorated Breitscheidplatz between Kurfürstendamm and Zoologischer Garten, handmade crafts, Christmas decorations, winter clothing, children’s toys and lovingly crafted accessories are on display and ready to stuff your Christmas stocking.

There are also stands at the Christmas market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church offering hearty Thuringian bratwurst, sweet waffles, candied fruit and nuts – the whole range of seasonal treats. Mulled wine and homemade eggnog is served in the warmth of the conservatories and pavilions.

The small carousels cause children’s eyes to light up and add a nostalgic charm to the market.

Updated

From our Berlin correspondent:

The co-driver or passenger of the truck died in an ambulance.

The lorry was registered to a company in Szczecin, Poland. It was on its way back to Poland, having started its journey in Italy. It was due to unload in Berlin, where the driver was due to have a break.

The head of the company has said the registered driver was his cousin. He has said he would “put his hand in the fire” that his cousin would not have been behind this attack. The strong suspicion is that the vehicle was hijacked during its journey.

This post previously misnamed the city Szczecin.

Updated

A Berlin photographer and social media news producer, Mischa Heuer, has been tweeting photos of how the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market looked like just one week ago.

The Berlin state interior minister has just noted that the reasons for a truck ramming into a Christmas market and killing nine people are still unclear and it is not known if it was an accident or a deliberate attack.

The Berlin police have also been tweeting that the background is still unknown and to “not spread rumours”.

In contrast, Facebook is allowing users to check in as safe on a page called “The Attack in Berlin, Germany,” although it’s not yet certain it was an attack.

Updated

Germany’s justice minister, Heiko Maas, tweeted his condolences, and noted that the federal prosecutor will be responsible for the investigation:

“Shocking news from #Breitscheidplatz. We mourn with the families [of the victims]. The federal prosecutor is taking over the case.”

Updated

This from our world affairs editor, Julian Borger:

The attack was reminiscent of the massacre in Nice in July, where a Tunisian-born French resident, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, drove a 19-tonne truck down the city’s Promenade des Anglais into a crowd that had gathered for a Bastille Day firework display, killing 86 and injuring hundreds.

French authorities said that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel had been inspired by Isis propaganda, but they say no evidence has been found that Isis orchestrated the attack.

Updated

Berlin police say the passenger in the truck, previously described as a “co-driver,” was the one who died.

Nothing is known about their identity.

Stefanie Bolzen, the London correspondent for German publication WELT, points out that Marcus Pretzell, a German politician and member of the European parliament, has called those who died at the Berlin Christmas market “Merkel’s dead”.

Pretzell is the regional head of AfD, Alternative for Germany, the hard rightwing party that is anti-immigration.

Updated

Berlin police have begun tweeting in English, noting that the “background” of the Christmas market incident is still unclear. Police also highlight that it is unknown if the person arrested was a driver of the truck.

Police note that the LKA, short for Landeskriminalamt, the state criminal police office, is investigating the incident and that there are “no indications of future dangerous situations” in the city.

The lorry belongs to a Polish haulage company and is registered in Gdansk, according to local media reports. The owner of the company, named only as Ariel Z, gave an interview to Polish radio TVN24 on Monday evening, saying his cousin had been travelling to Berlin in the lorry. He wanted to spend the night in the city, Ariel said, adding he could not imagine his cousin causing the crash as he had had 15 years’ experience driving lorries.

Berlin correspondent Kate Connolly notes that off-duty doctors across Berlin are being brought in to tend to the many injured.

The German interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, told reporters:

My thoughts are with the relatives of the victims and those injured in this terrible incident. I am in constant contact with the security forces in Berlin and have offered them every possible assistance from the federal police.

This in from Berlin correspondent Kate Connolly

Police have said the juggernaut which crashed into the Christmas market had Polish number plates and belonged to a Polish delivery company. The company said the truck left Poland this afternoon heading to Berlin and that they lost touch with the driver at 4pm local time. It would appear that the lorry might have been hijacked.

Updated

Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, reacted with shock at the attack. He said police had the situation under control, adding: “What we are witnessing here is dramatic. My thoughts are with the families, who are grieving over someone dead or injured.”

Facebook launched a “safety check” for users in Berlin to “check in” and confirm they are safe, following the Christmas market truck crash.

Berlin police continued to ask residents to stay away from the area, tweeting:

We need all rescue routes. Please do not come to #Breitscheidplatz. Please keep the streets clear for us. #thank you

Wolfgang Bosbach, an MP with the Christian Democrats, Angela Merkel’s party, told media:

Although there is a host of unanswered questions, indications are it was a deliberate attack, carried out not just with the greatest brutality and disastrous consequences but also with a deliberate symbolism. Just a few days before Christmas, in the middle of the German capital and amidst happy, peaceful people. The message is clear: no matter where, no matter how, we can pounce at any time.

Updated

A co-driver of the truck that ploughed into the Berlin Christmas market died during the crash, a police spokesman said on N24 television, according to Reuters.

The other suspected driver was arrested near the scene, the AP reports.

Updated

Police arrest suspected driver

German police have arrested the suspected driver of the truck that rammed the Christmas market in Berlin, leaving nine dead, according to a police spokesman on N24 television, Reuters reports.

Updated

Berlin police are calling on residents to stay at home and to not “spread rumours” about the truck crash at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market.

The police tweeted:

“Please help us. Stay home and do not spread rumors. Follow us here for important information.”

The location in Berlin of a truck crashing into a Christmas market that has killed nine people.

It is still unclear if the event was an accident or a deliberate attack.

Updated

The Guardian’s Berlin bureau chief, Philip Oltermann, is on the scene.

From Kate Connolly, the Guardian’s Berlin correspondent

According to latest news reports in Berlin a lorry ploughed into a Christmas market this evening, driving over a pavement and crashing into market stalls and knocking people over. The market is one of Berlin’s most popular, on Breitscheidplatz in the western centre of the city.

Police say the lorry came from the direction of Budapester Straße, over the pavement, coming to a halt by a Christmas tree in front of the Gedächtnis Kirche, or Memorial Church. Known locally as the jagged tooth, the church was bombed in the second world war, and left more or less in its ruined state as a memorial to the victims of the war. It’s one of the most popular tourist sites in Berlin, and very close to the popular Berlin Zoo.

Police have cleared the area and volunteers have set up an information point for relatives looking for news of missing loved ones.

Updated

Nine people have now died and “many” are injured after a truck rammed a Christmas market in Berlin, police have just confirmed.

It’s not immediately clear if the incident was an accident or some kind of terrorist attack.

The market is outside the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church in Breitscheidplatz, across the road from the Berlin Zoo and in the middle of a retail and hotel district.

The US state department issued a warning in late November for Europe over “credible information” of terror attacks at Christmas-related events, including markets, by the Islamic State, al-Qaida and affiliates.

“The Department of State alerts US citizens to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, particularly during the holiday season. US citizens should exercise caution at holiday festivals, events and outdoor markets,” it read.

“Credible information indicates the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil or Da’esh), al-Qaida, and their affiliates continue to plan terrorist attacks in Europe, with a focus on the upcoming holiday season and associated events,” it continued.

Last year a ban on suitcases and backpacks was implemented in Berlin’s Christmas markets after fears the Yuletide-tradition would become a terrorist target. Germany hosts around 1,500 Christmas markets every year.

We will be updating this post with more information as it comes

Updated

Death toll rises to 9

Nine people have now died and “many” are injured after a truck rammed a Christmas market in Berlin, Berlin police have just confirmed.

Updated

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Written by on December 20, 2016. Filed under Crimen,News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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