Investigation proceeding apace, says Thomas de Maizière
"It was a targeted attack," said Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière on Tuesday evening on German television (ZDF). "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."
The Federal Interior Minister confirmed on Wednesday lunchtime that the investigators have "a new suspect". "An official manhunt was launched for the suspect at midnight," said Thomas de Maizière and stressed, "He is a suspect, not necessarily the perpetrator."
Acting on behalf of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police Office) has now appealed to the public for assistance in the search for the 24-year old Anis Amri. A reward of up to EUR 100,000 has been offered for information leading to the apprehension of the man urgently suspected of involvement in the attack.
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 a memorial service was held in the church.
The attack at Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz killed twelve people. 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.