Scene of terror attack in Berlin, Dec. 12, 16.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN - German police think that the man from Pakistan who was arrested as a suspect in the attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people on Monday was not the actual perpetrator, Die Welt newspaper reported, citing senior security sources.
"We have the wrong man," said a senior police chief. "And therefore a new situation. The true perpetrator is still armed, at large and can cause fresh damage," the paper quoted the source as saying.
The Berlin police chief said that it was not clear if the Pakistani man arrested after a deadly trunk rampage at a Christmas market was the driver of the vehicle.
"As far as I know it is in fact uncertain whether that really was the driver," said Berlin Police President Klaus Kandt.
Berlin police said on Twitter that they were being vigilant as the suspect had denied involvement in the incident, which police have said was a deliberate attack.
Witnesses describe deadly attack at Berlin market
"The temporary arrested suspect denies the offense," Berlin police tweeted in English. "Therefore we are particularly alert. Please be also alert," they urged the public.
German media had previously identified the suspected driver of the truck in question as a 23-year-old from Pakistan named Naved B.
A German security source said the original suspect was known to police for committing minor offenses. The source said the man had been staying at a refugee accommodation center in the now defunct Tempelhof airport.
Police said the man suspected of steering the truck had fled the crash scene and was later arrested.
Newspaper Die Welt
said he had jumped out of the driver's cab and run down the street towards the Tiergarten, a vast park in central Berlin. It said several witnesses phoned police to inform them, including one who chased the suspect while on the phone, constantly updating officials on his whereabouts.
On Tuesday morning, investigators removed the black truck from the site for a forensic examination. People left flowers at the scene and notes, one of which read: "Keep on living, Berliners!" One woman was crying as she stopped by the flowers.
Berlin police are investigating leads that the truck had been stolen from a construction site in Poland. They said a Polish man was found dead inside the vehicle but added he was not in control of it.
Later on Tuesday, the president of Berlin police said authorities in the German capital will significantly increase security measures in the coming days, with steps such as erecting barriers, after the attack on a Christmas market.
Berlin city's interior senator also said that plans for New Year's Eve will go ahead but security steps will be reviewed.
Meanwhile in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to the German people on Tuesday in light of the suspected terrorist attack.
"Israel condemns what looks like a terror attack in Germany," the prime minister said, adding that "we send our condolence to the families of those killed, to the German government and a speedy recovery to the injured, including an Israeli citizen."
"This attack, along with other terror, shows that terror is spreading to every place in the world and can only be stopped if we fight it," the premier said, "and we will beat it."
"But we will beat it faster if all free nations unite and join the war to defeat terrorism," he added.