German Chancellor Angela Merkel is speaking out about the attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed at least 12 people Monday.
Merkel said she is “shocked, shaken and deeply saddened” after what she said the government must assume was a “terrorist attack.”
A dozen people were killed and almost 50 are injured a truck drove into a popular Christmas market outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church near Berlin’s Zoo station late Monday.
The country’s top security official revealed on Tuesday the suspect came from Pakistan and had applied for asylum in Germany. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the suspect, who claims to be innocent, entered Germany on December 31st, 2015 and arrived in Berlin in February 2016.
After facing criticism for allowing large numbers of migrants into Germany, Merkel discussed the possibility that an asylum-seeker was responsible.
“I know that it would be particularly hard for us all to bear if it were confirmed that a person committed this act who asked for protection and asylum in Germany,” Merkel said. “This would be particularly sickening for the many, many Germans who work to help refugees every day and for the many people who really need our help and are making an effort to integrate in our country.”
Authorities arrested a man suspected of being the driver about 2 kilometres from the scene. There are reports the suspect was known to police for minor crimes.
A Polish national who was inside the truck is among the dead, but Investigators are releasing few details about who he was or what happened to him.
Ariel Zurawski, the owner of the truck, was worried the vehicle may have been hijacked.
The attack happened less than a month after the U.S. State Department issued a warning that extremist groups including Islamic State and al-Qaida were focusing “on the upcoming holiday season and associated events” in Europe.
The Islamic State group has not claimed responsibility as of Tuesday morning, but the Islamic State group and al-Qaida have suggested that their followers use trucks to attack crowds.
Merkel insisted Germans will not live in fear following Monday’s attack.
“Even if it’s difficult at this hour we will find the strength to live life the way we want to live it in Germany. Free, together and openly,” she said.
(Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)