A truck rammed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin Monday night, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens of others in what witnesses described as a deliberate attack.
German authorities said they are still investigating whether the crash was an accident, but a statement from the White House National Security Council (NSC) said the incident “appears to have been a terrorist attack.”
The large Scania truck with a Polish license plate crashed into the market outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The truck came to a halt on a sidewalk on one side of the market, shortly after ramming a large stand called “Fascination Christmas,” ripping off one side and knocking down a large Christmas tree. The three-meter tree lay in the street, red and gold ornamental balls still attached to its limbs and a golden star at the top.
Police said a suspect believed to be the driver was arrested about 1 1/2 miles away, near Berlin’s Victory Column monument. A passenger in the truck died at the scene as paramedics were attending to him.
Authorities initially estimated that 50 people were injured. Berlin’s fire brigade later said that about 45 people were hospitalized, while others were “more mentally injured.”
The Polish owner of the truck said he feared the vehicle, driven by his cousin, may have been hijacked. Ariel Zurawski said he last spoke with the driver around noon, and the driver told him he was in Berlin and scheduled to unload Tuesday morning.
“They must have done something to my driver,” he told TVN24. Zurawski added that the truck had been loaded with steel structures weighing 25 tons.