Investigations running at full speed
Fingerprints of Anis Amri, who is urgently suspected of being the attacker, have been found in the cab of the attack truck, reported Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière after visiting the BKA (Federal Criminal Police Office) in Berlin on Thursday (22 December), along with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Justice Minister Heiko Maas. "There are a number of indications that this suspect is in fact the perpetrator," continued Thomas de Maizière.
Top priority to apprehend the suspect
Federal Justice Minister Heiko Maas said that apprehending Amri "is the top priority at the moment". All authorities are focusing on arresting the man thought to be behind the attack. Thomas de Maizière and Heiko Maas praised the work of the authorities, which have first class national and international networks.
The Federal Public Prosecutor has put the BKA in charge of the manhunt for the 24-year-old Anis Amri, who is suspected of crashing a truck into the Christmas market on Berlin’s Breitscheidsplatz on Monday evening. A reward of up to 100,000 euros has been offered for information leading to the apprehension of the suspect.
BKA’s work is "highly professional" says Chancellor
Chancellor Angela Merkel has praised the "highly professional work" of the BKA and the Berlin authorities, which is processing "with enormous dedication". It is clear to everybody involved that millions of people hope "that we will soon apprehend the perpetrator". Angela Merkel continued, "We know that we have democracy and the rule of law on our side."
As the Chancellor stressed, our thoughts are with the victims of the attack "at all times". She praised the reaction of the German people in the wake of the attack. "In the last few days I have been very proud to see the level-headed reaction of the vast majority of people to this situation."
Security improved for Christmas markets
"It was a targeted attack," said Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière on Tuesday evening (20 December). "In future security will be even tighter around Christmas markets." This was one outcome of a telephone conference with the interior ministers of the federal states.
The Federal Interior Minister rejected out of hand the suggestion that all Christmas markets should close. "We have decided that this would not be the right thing to do. Christmas markets are part of our Christian tradition. We will not give in to terrorism."
Close contact between federal and state authorities
Investigations and the search for the perpetrator are proceeding apace, said the Federal Interior Minister. He is in "direct and constant contact with those responsible for security in the state of Berlin". A first suspect who had been taken into custody has since been released. The possibility that the perpetrator has fled cannot thus be discounted, said Thomas de Maizière on German television (ZDF) on 20 December.
There was no concrete warning of the attack in advance, said the minister. "In future we will be tightening security further at Christmas markets. The interior ministers of the federal states and I agreed this today."
The Federal Interior Minister also announced stricter controls for New Year Eve revels. "Security measures on the ground will be tighter. When I say that we must not let our free lives be destroyed, it applies to New Year’s Eve as well," said Thomas de Maizière in an interview with the German daily newspaper Bild on 21 December.
Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that she is in constant contact with the Federal President, the Federal Interior Minister and the Governing Mayor of Berlin. On Tuesday morning (20 December) and on Wednesday she convened meetings of the federal security cabinet.
Mourning for the victims
The attack at Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz has provoked shock and horror around the world. The Federal Interior Minister ordered that flags should be flown at half mast on all federal authority buildings. In the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at the Breitscheidplatz a condolence book is available. On Tuesday evening a memorial service was held in the church.
The death toll following the attack at Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz has risen to twelve. About 50 people were injured, 18 of them seriously. The Federal Public Prosecutor in Karlsruhe is responsible for crimes that affect internal security. He has assumed responsibility for the case, and called in the BKA (Federal Criminal Police Office) to conduct investigations.