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Intelligence lapses over Berlin festive market massacre suspect 'shocking'

By Lizzie Dearden

Angela Merkel's deputy yesterday branded a catalogue of German security blunders "shocking" as the suspected Berlin attacker remained on the run.

Fingerprint evidence placed Anis Amri behind the wheel of a hijacked lorry used to kill 12 people at one of the German capital's most popular Christmas markets in a terror attack claimed by Islamic State.

Authorities admitted letting the 24-year-old Tunisian slip through the net after he was investigated over a previous terror plot and put under surveillance for six months, but not arrested.

A bid to deport Amri after his asylum application was rejected failed in June because Tunisia had no proof of his nationality.

Armin Laschet, deputy chairman of Ms Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party, said the revelations must have consequences for the government.

"The information we have been receiving can only leave one shocked about how the authorities work," he added. "The first phase is to first find the culprit, then I think a political, parliamentary and administrative appraisal must take place to see what consequences can be drawn."

Critics have blamed Ms Merkel's decision to open Germany's borders at the height of the refugee crisis for the massacre and two previous terror attacks carried out by asylum seekers pledging allegiance to IS.

The German leader told a Press conference she was hoping for Amri to be arrested quickly as a Europe-wide manhunt continued. "I am certain we will meet this test we are facing," she said.

"In the past few days I have been proud of how calmly most people reacted to the situation."

As well as being in contact with known Islamist preachers, Amri is reported to have offered himself as a suicide bomber on extremist chat sites. The messages were uncovered in a separate counter-terror probe, but the wording was not deemed conclusive enough to warrant an arrest, local media reported.

He also raised a red flag with counter-terror agencies in the US, which put Amri on a no-fly list after discovering he had conducted online research into making bombs and communicated with IS militants on a messaging app.

Earlier this year he spoke to two IS fighters, and Tunisian authorities listened in on their conversation before informing German authorities, Bild said.

Prosecutors launched a previous probe into claims Amri was planning a break-in to finance weapons for an attack, but surveillance failed to reveal evidence of a terror plot and was stopped in September.

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