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Berlin Christmas market: Lorry crashes into crowd 'killing several people'

A lorry has crashed into crowds of people at a Christmas market in Berlin killing several people and injuring at least 50 others.

German police said that they suspect it was a deliberate attack.

A police spokesman said they have arrested a suspicious person near the scene.

Meanwhile Germany's N24 TV station said a second person was found dead in the cab of the lorry.

Both the Berliner Zeitung newspaper and the Berliner Morgenpost reported the lorry ran into the market outside the landmark Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on Monday evening.

It is thought the vehicle came from the direction of Budapester Strasse, mounted the the pavement, before stopping at the Christmas tree in front of the Gedächtnis Kirche.

Bild newspaper posted a picture of a large Scania vehicle with its windscreen smashed out on the pavement alongside the market. A photo posted by the Morgenpost showed damaged tables and stalls.

Witness Mike Fox said that the lorry missed him by only about three metres as it drove into the market, tearing through tables and wooden stands.

"It was definitely deliberate," said the tourist from Birmingham.

He said he helped people who appeared to have broken limbs, and that others were trapped under Christmas stands.

Dozens of ambulances lined the streets waiting to take the injured away, and heavily armed police patrolled the area. Police on Twitter urged people to stay away from the area, saying they need to keep the streets clear for rescue vehicles.

The market is hugely popular with locals and tourists from across Europe.

Organisers of Belfast' Christmas market said in a statement on Facebook: "The Market Place team (organisers of the Belfast Christmas Market) are shocked and deeply saddened to hear of events at the Berlin Christmas Market.

"As organisers of festive events we know the joy they bring. For this happiness to be so devastatingly interrupted is heartbreaking. We send our condolences to all those affected. Our thoughts are with locals, visitors and traders."

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

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

On July 14, a truck ploughed into a Bastille Day crowd in the southern French city of Nice, killing 86 people. IS claimed that attack, which was carried out by a Tunisian living in France.

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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