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Berlin Christmas market death toll mounts - evidence 'points to terror attack'

The driver who rammed a truck into a crowded Christmas market in the heart of Berlin killing at least 12 people did so intentionally, police said.

Almost 50 people were injured, some seriously, in the incident, which Berlin Police said was a suspected terrorist attack.

The authorities had previously said that nine people were killed when the vehicle tore through tables and wooden stands outside the popular market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

The attack came late on Monday as tourists and locals were enjoying a traditional pre-Christmas evening out near Berlin's Zoo station.

"Our investigators are working on the assumption that the truck was intentionally driven into the crowd at the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz," police said on Twitter.

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

<<Are you in Germany and been caught in this atrocity? Contact our news desk at digital.editorial@belfasttelegraph.co.uk>>

Hours earlier Germany's most senior security official had refrained from labelling it an intentional act, but said evidence pointed in that direction, while the White House condemned "what appears to have been a terrorist attack".

The crash came less than a month after the US State Department called for caution at markets and other public places across Europe, saying extremist groups including Islamic State and al-Qaida were focusing "on the upcoming holiday season and associated events".

Both groups have called on followers to use trucks in particular to attack crowds. On July 14, a truck ploughed into Bastille Day revellers in the southern French city of Nice, killing 86 people.

IS claimed responsibility for that attack, which was carried out by a Tunisian living in France.

After the Berlin attack, dozens of ambulances lined the streets waiting to evacuate people, and heavily armed police patrolled. The authorities used Twitter to urge people to stay away from the area, saying they needed to keep the streets clear for rescue vehicles.

Among the dead was a passenger in the truck, who succumbed as paramedics treated him, Berlin police spokesman Winfried Wenzel said. Police said later the man was a Polish national.

A suspect believed to be the driver was picked up about 1.5 miles away, near the Victory Column monument. He was being interrogated, Mr Wenzel said.

The truck was registered in Poland, and police initially said it was believed to be stolen from a building site there.

The Polish owner of the truck said he feared the vehicle, driven by his cousin, may have been hijacked.

Ariel Zurawski said he last spoke with the driver around noon, and the driver told him he was in Berlin and scheduled to unload on Tuesday morning.

"They must have done something to my driver," he told TVN24.

German police issued a phone number for those concerned about the safety of family and friends. The number to call is 030 54023 111.

Berlin Embassy numbers

British: +49030204570

Irish: +4930220720

US: +493083050

Australia: +49308800880

Canada: +4930203120


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