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World News \ Europe

Germany detains Tunisian man over Christmas market attack

German police have ramped up security at the Brandenburg Gate, ahead of the upcoming New Year's Eve celebrations in Berlin - REUTERS

German police have ramped up security at the Brandenburg Gate, ahead of the upcoming New Year's Eve celebrations in Berlin - REUTERS

29/12/2016 09:55

(Vatican Radio)  German prosecutors say a Tunisian man has been detained in Berlin over last week's attack on a Christmas market in the German capital which killed 12 people and injured nearly 50 others. The announcement came amid revelations from Dutch authorities that the main suspect killed last week in Italy had been able to travel through several European countries following the rampage.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report:

German officials say police raided the home and workplace of a terror suspect, described as a 40-year-old Tunisian man, in the Tempelhof area of Berlin. Officials were to decide on Thursday whether to formally arrest him on charges related to the truck attack at a Christmas market in Berlin. 

Investigators say his number was found on the phone of Anis Amri, the Tunisian man who is believed to have killed 12 people by hijacking a lorry and ramming it through the stalls and into the crowd. Amri was shot dead by police in Milan early last Friday, four days on from the attack, after the 24-year-old Tunisian opened fire and injured an officer during a routine check.

Government officials have said the lorry's automatic braking system may have prevented the loss of more lives. The system kicks in when it senses an impact and officials say this may have cut the hijacker's rampage short.

EUROPEAN POLICE

Police across Europe are piecing together the movements of Amri. Authorities in the Netherlands say it was highly likely Amri was spotted on security camera's in the train station of the city of Nijmegen.

They are investigating whether he travelled there immediately after the market attack, following the discovery of an unused Dutch mobile phone Sim card in his backpack. From Nijmegen, it is thought he took a six-hour bus trip to Lyon-Part-Dieu station in France - from where he apparently got a train to Milan, said Jirko Patist, a spokesman for the Dutch national prosecutor's office.

He said that "from the moment that the suspect was shot dead in Italy, the Italian prosecutors office informed us that a Dutch mobile phone Sim card was discovered on the body of the suspect. We took our time to study that Sim card to see if he indeed visited the Netherlands."

Patist added that Dutch authorities "discovered that those free Sim cards were distributed at several locations in the Netherlands."

Most likely, he said, "the suspect received the card in Nijmegen because we also discovered security camera footage which is most likely the same man who was seen in camera footage taken in Lyon, France. We are still investigating those pictures and at the moment have no reason to believe he was there with other people."        

TRUCK FIGHT?

In Poland, preliminary findings of the autopsy on the Polish driver found dead in the truck suggest the man may have still been alive when the attack occurred.

It was initially suggested that Lukasz Urban, had intervened, possibly grabbing the steering wheel, while being held hostage in the passenger seat.

But doctors later said Urban would have been unconscious by this point, having been shot some hours before when Amri stole the vehicle from him.

The case has fueled a debate on the European Union's passport free Schengen zone which makes it easier for people, including attackers, to travel through several nations. 

29/12/2016 09:55