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At least nine dead and 50 hurt as truck ploughs into Berlin Christmas market

By Staff Reporter

There was carnage in the heart of Berlin last night after a large articulated lorry ploughed into stalls at a crowded Christmas market, leaving at least nine people dead.

More than 50 more revellers were injured in what German police are treating as a terrorist attack.

The incident occurred on the corner of Kantstrasse and Budapester Strasse, near the location of Berlin's iconic Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on the Kurfürstendamm shopping precinct.

Police and ambulance services set up an emergency field hospital close by to treat the injured.

A passenger in the truck also died at the scene, while the driver escaped.

Police later arrested a man suspected of driving the 18-wheeled lorry, which carried Polish registration marks.

The Washington Times reported that Islamic State (IS) had claimed responsibility for the attack, which bore the hallmarks of July's devastating tragedy in France, in which 86 people were killed.

Last night, it was feared that the death toll would rise.

Graphic images and videos from the scene were posted on social media by shoppers who witnessed the carnage.

"I heard a big noise and then I moved on the Christmas market and saw much chaos, many injured people,' said Jan Hollitzer, deputy editor in chief of Berliner Morgenpost. "It was really traumatic."

British tourist Emma Rushton told reporters she was just eight feet from the truck.

"The stall that we bought our mulled wine from was completely crushed. People were tearing off wooden panels to get out," she told Sky News.

"This wasn't an accident - the truck was going at 40mph right through the middle of the market.

"There was no way it could have come off the road and it showed no signs of slowing down."

"We were sitting and drinking, then we heard a really loud bang, some of the Christmas lights being pulled down.

"We saw the articulated lorry going through people and just pulling everything down.

"It was very difficult to be there."

Mike Fox, a tourist from Birmingham, said the truck missed him by about three metres as it drove into the market.

"It was definitely deliberate," he said, adding that he helped people who appeared to have broken limbs, and that others were trapped under Christmas stands.

IS and al Qaida have both called on followers to use trucks to attack public places.

On July 14, a truck ploughed into a Bastille Day crowd in the southern French city of Nice.

IS also claimed that attack, which was carried out by a Tunisian who had been living in France.

Dozens of ambulances lined the Berlin streets waiting to take injured people away, while heavily armed police officers patrolled the now-devastated Christmas market.

Police urged people to stay away from the area, saying they need to keep the streets clear for rescue vehicles.

The German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said in a statement: "My thoughts are now with the relatives of the victims and the injuries of this terrible incident."

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