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'Armed and dangerous' Tunisian sought over Berlin lorry attack

An international manhunt is under way for an "armed and dangerous" Tunisian man with ties to Islamic extremists who has been identified as a suspect in the Berlin lorry attack which left 12 dead.

Anis Amri has been identified by Tunisian officials as the man being sought by German police across the country and the wider border-free area of the European Union, and a 100,000 euro (£84,000) reward is being offered for information leading to his arrest.

It emerged the 24-year-old was put under covert surveillance by German authorities for more than six months after they received a tip in March that he may have been planning a break-in to finance buying automatic weapons for an attack.

But agencies stopped watching him in September after nothing was found to substantiate the original warning.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Amri was suspected of involvement in Monday's terrorist outrage but was not necessarily the man who drove the hijacked lorry into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital.

His identity papers were found under the driver's seat of the lorry, Der Spiegel said.

According to Die Welt, the papers were issued in Kleve, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Amri - who had applied for asylum - had an address both there and in Berlin.

A European Arrest Warrant also showed he used six different names, under three different nationalities, the Associated Press said, and he had an asylum claim rejected in July.

German media reported that Amri was not deported because Tunisia initially claimed he was not a citizen and he did not have the correct papers to be repatriated.

He was also charged with assault in the summer but disappeared before he could appear in court.

Amri apparently arrived in Germany in July last year, Ralf Jaeger, the interior minister of western North Rhine-Westphalia state, said, living in three German regions since February but mainly Berlin.

Surveillance was carried out on him following a tip in March but was called off in September after turning up nothing more than him dealing drugs in a Berlin park and getting involved in a bar brawl before disappearing from his regular haunts in the capital.

But Mr Jaeger said security agencies swapped counter-terrorism information about him as recently as November.

On Wednesday scores of people held a minute's silence at a vigil for the victims near a large Christmas tree at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

People stood together clutching candles and lanterns, occasionally hugging and weeping, as John Lennon's song Imagine was played.

Author Anne Wizorek also made a short speech, telling the crowd: "We need radical solidarity. We have to stand together and not be torn apart.

"We cannot let the hate and the fear have a platform."

Similar services took place in Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg.

So-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, which also left 50 injured when an articulated lorry was driven through huts and stalls at the market near Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

Six of the 11 victims have been identified as German, along with a Polish man found shot dead inside the lorry's cab.

A 23-year-old Pakistani asylum seeker was detained in the aftermath of the attack but released because of a lack of evidence.

Authorities said the ''modus operandi'' of the attack had echoes of July's atrocity in Nice in the south of France, in which 86 people died, with the target of the attack ''highly symbolic''.

Security measures have been tightened across Britain, with police reviewing security arrangements for the festive period in the wake of the attack. Forces are to step up security measures at major Christmas markets.

Members of the public were urged to remain vigilant and report any concerns as the official threat level in the UK remains at severe - meaning an attack is seen as "highly likely".


From Belfast Telegraph