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Truck crash kills 12 in Christmas market

BERLIN (Reuters) – A truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin on Monday evening, killing 12 people and injuring 48 others in what Germany’s interior minister said looked like an attack.

Police said on Twitter that they had taken one suspect into custody and that another passenger from the truck had died as it crashed into people gathered around wooden huts serving mulled wine and sausages at the foot of the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church in the heart of former West Berlin.

The nationality of the suspected driver, who fled the crash scene and was later arrested, was unclear, police said.
German media cited local security sources as saying that there was evidence suggesting the arrested suspect was from Afghanistan or Pakistan and entered Germany in February as a refugee.

“We heard a loud bang,” Emma Rushton, a tourist, told CNN. “We started to see the top of an articulated truck, a lorry … just crashing through the stalls, through people.”

Rushton said the truck seemed to be traveling at about 40 mph (65 kph). Police later said that 48 injured people were brought to Berlin hospitals.

Pictures from the scene showed Christmas decorations protruding from the smashed windscreen of the black truck. In the aftermath, it was resting lopsided on the pavement with a mangled Christmas tree beneath its wheels.

Berlin police said on Twitter they were investigating leads that the truck had been stolen from a construction site in Poland.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the circumstances of the crash were still unclear, adding: “I don’t want to use the word ‘attack’ yet although a lot points to that.”

The incident evoked memories of an attack in Nice, France in July when a Tunisian-born man drove a 19-ton truck along the beach front, mowing down people who had gathered to watch the fireworks on Bastille Day, killing 86 people. That attack was claimed by Islamic State.

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