A Pakistani asylum seeker believed to have used a hijacked 25-tonne lorry to murder 12 people and injure 48 more at a Berlin Christmas market had only been in Germany for months and was already known to police because of petty crime, it was revealed today.
The masked 23-year-old, who has not been named but is known to have various aliases, turned off the truck’s lights before mounting the pavement at 40mph and ploughing through crowds of people enjoying mulled wine after work.
The vehicle laden with steel cargo ripped through stalls and shoppers at 7pm on Breitscheidplatz Square, outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the German capital’s main shopping area.
Witnesses said victims were sent flying like bowling pins as the killer driver steered at them before jumping out of the cab and racing from the scene. Police traced the masked terror suspect to a nearby zoo and managed to take him alive. He is in a Berlin police station today.
Police confirmed the lorry’s original Polish driver, who was transporting steel beams from Poland to Germany, was last heard from at around 4pm yesterday and was found dead in the cab in an apparent murder hijacking.
German officials have said that the driver is a Pakistani national who entered Germany via the Balkans between December 31 and February as an asylum seeker. He was believed to be living in a refugee camp at Berlin’s Tempelhof airport, which was raided by an elite group of armed anti-terror police at 4am this morning.
- At least 48 injured and 12 dead after truck mowed down shoppers at 40mph in a busy Christmas market
Berlin police confirmed that they believe the truck was ‘intentionally’ driven into the crowd of people
Incident ‘probable’ terrorism after Polish-registered lorry understood to have been stolen by hijacker
Two senior German officials confirmed the man was Pakistani and arrived in Germany as an asylum seeker
The original driver, a Polish national transporting steel beams, was found dead inside the 25-tonne vehicle