The Islamic State extremist group is claiming responsibility for the truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people and left nearly 50 injured.
The Islamic State group’s Amaq news agency said in a statement Tuesday that “the person who carried out the truck run over attack in Berlin is a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the attack in response to calls for targeting citizens of the Crusader coalition.”
German police are still hunting for the driver of the truck, which slammed into the downtown Christmas market Monday night.
The interior minister of the country, Thomas de Maiziere, told reporters that investigators are following several leads.
“We just heard about the supposed claim of responsibility by this so-called Islamic State that is in fact a gang of terrorists,” de Maiziere told ARD broadcaster.
“There are several leads that investigators are following now.”
De Maiziere added that “nobody will rest until the perpetrator or the perpetrators are caught”.
A man arrested shortly after the attack was released because there isn’t sufficient evidence to tie him to the rampage.
Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that that the man, a Pakistani citizen who came to Germany last year as an asylum-seeker, denied involvement in the attack that killed 12 people and injured nearly 50 others.
They noted that witnesses were able to follow the truck’s driver from the scene but lost track of him. The man arrested matched witness descriptions of the truck driver, but investigators haven’t been able to prove that he was in the truck’s cab at the time of the attack.
Under German law, prosecutors have until the end of the calendar day following an arrest to seek a formal arrest warrant keeping a suspect in custody.
Germany is not involved in anti-IS combat operations. But it does have Tornado jets and a refuelling plane stationed in Turkey in support of the coalition fighting militants in Syria, as well as a frigate protecting a French aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean.
The U.N. Security Council is condemning “the barbaric and cowardly terrorist attack” at a Christmas market in Berlin and calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Council members say “that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.”
The council “expressed their deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the government of Germany.”