Berlin Closes Christmas Markets After Terror Attack

REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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German officials closed all Christmas markets in Berlin Tuesday in response to a Monday truck attack that left 12 people dead and 48 injured.

The suspect in the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market attack is still at large, despite the arrest of a potential suspect Monday night, according to Berlin police. German authorities arrested a 23-year-old suspect of Pakistani origin last night, but later discovered he was not the truck driver.

“We have the wrong man, and thus a new situation,” said the Berlin police in a statement. “The capital’s preparedness police and the special forces have been informed.”

The perpetrator of the Breitscheidplatz attack is still at large, and is considered armed and dangerous.

Berlin is home to around 60 Christmas markets, with more than 150 total in Germany. Many of the markets are located in public areas with minimal security. German officials added some increased security during last year’s market season in response to the multiple terrorist attacks in Paris in November.

Christmas markets in other regions of Germany will remain open, with increased security measures as needed. Authorities placed massive concrete blocks around Striezelmarkt, one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets located in Dresden, in an apparent attempt to prevent a similar attack.

Germany’s markets are a remarkably popular tourist destination, attracting crowds from across the globe. Their popularity also makes them a target of opportunity for terrorist organizations, which prompted the U.S. Department State to issue a travel alert to U.S. citizens traveling to Germany in November.

Despite closing the Berlin markets, German Minister of the Interior Thomas De Maiziere insisted that such an attack should not curtail Germany freedom.

“No matter what we continue to learn about the exact background and motives of the perpetrators, we can and we must not let them take away our freedom,” said de Maiziere in a statement.


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