At least nine people have been killed and more than 50 injured after a lorry ploughed through a crowd of shoppers at 40mph in a busy Christmas market in Berlin.
As German police indicated the incident may be terror related, ISIS moved quickly to claim responsibility for the fatal attack.
The vehicle mounted the pavement before tearing through stalls as it travelled the entire length of the market on Breitscheidplatz Square, outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the German capital’s main shopping area.
After the driver was arrested nearby and another person was found dead in the cab, there was speculation this evening that the Polish-registered lorry may have been hijacked as the haulage firm said they lost contact with the driver this afternoon.
The vehicle left a trail of devastation in its wake, in a chilling echo of the deadly terror attack in the French city of Nice in July – and came just one hour after the Russian ambassador was shot dead in Ankara.
The incident comes amid repeated warnings from security agencies that supporters of Islamic State could launch lone wolf terror attacks at festive markets across Europe.
German Christmas Market Attacked:
Germany’s justice minister says federal prosecutors, who handle terrorism cases, are now taking over the investigation, while police are using Twitter to urge locals to stay in their homes and ‘check suspicious objects’.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile, says she is ‘mourning the dead’.
Terrified market-goers tweeted horrifying images and spoke from the scene of the incident.
Mike Fox, a tourist from Birmingham, said the large truck missed him by about three meters as it drove into the market, tearing through tables and wooden stands.
‘It was definitely deliberate,’ he said.
Mr Fox said he helped people who appeared to have broken limbs, and said others were trapped under Christmas stands, adding: ‘We were in the market, outside the cathedral and we had just had mulled wine then as we were leaving the large truck came through.
Video of Truck That Crashed into Christmas Market Berlin (Viewer discretion is advised)
‘It went just past me, past my girlfriend. I think it missed me by three metres, missed her by five. It came in through the entrance, hit the sides of the barriers and then carried on past us.’
British tourist Emma Rushton tweeted from the scene: ‘Lorry just ploughed through Christmas market in #berlin.
‘There is no road nearby. People crushed. I am safe. I am safe’.
She saw the lorry rush past her at speed and said it could not have been an accident.
She told Sky News she only missed being caught in the chaos because she had climbed up some steps to take a seat. Ms Rushton said: ‘The stall that we bought our mulled wine from was completely crushed. People were tearing off wooden panels to get out.’
She added: ‘It was not an accident. It was going 40mph, it was in the middle of the market. There was no way that it could have come off the road and it showed no signs of slowing down.’
‘I heard a big noise and then I moved on the Christmas market and saw much chaos…many injured people,’ Jan Hollitzer, deputy editor in chief of Berliner Morgenpost, told CNN. ‘It was really traumatic.’
Richard Clarkson, from Brighton, told the Irish Independent he was at a bar called Irish Bar with his friends on the street near were the incident happened.
One of his friends heard a bang. He said: ‘I just walked out and I saw the truck, the windscreen was broken, I didn’t see any bodies they were very quick to cover them up I think.’
‘The word terrorist is being thrown around a lot at the moment and people seem scared.’
At 9.35pm police announced the arrest of someone in connection with the attack – believed to be the driver of the truck.
The vehicle maneuvered from Budapester Strasse onto the area outside the Memorial Church before ploughing into the crowd. The Die Welt newspaper said that German intelligence had been warning city authorities for the past week of a possible attack on a Christmas market. source