12 die as truck ploughs into crowd at Berlin Christmas market

Incident evokes memories of the Nice attack when a man drove a truck along the beach front killing more than 80 people.

A truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital Berlin on Monday evening, killing 12 people and injuring up to 50 others, police said.

German police say they’ve arrested a suspect believed to be the driver of a truck that rammed into a crowded Christmas market in the center of Berlin, killing at least nine and causing multiple injuries.

Police spokesman Winfried Wenzel told ZDF public television that the man was arrested near the scene. No further details were immediately available.

German media, citing police at the scene, said first indications pointed to an attack on the market, situated at the foot of the ruined Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church, which was kept as a bombed-out ruin after World War Two.

The incident evoked memories of an attack in France in July when Tunisian-born man drove a 19-tonne truck along the beach front, mowing down people who had gathered to watch the fireworks on Bastille Day, killing 86 people. The attack was claimed by Islamic State.

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The truck entered the Berlin market at what would have been one of the most crowded times for the Christmas market, when adults and children would be gathering in the traditional cluster of wooden huts that sell food and Christmas goods.

“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.”

Police cars and ambulances converged quickly on the scene as a huge security operation unfolded. The fate of the driver of the truck was not immediately clear, but Bild newspaper said he was on the run.

Emma Rushton, a tourist visiting Berlin, told CNN the truck seemed to be travelling at about 40 mph.

Asked how many were injured, she said that as she walked back to her hotel, she saw at at least 10.

Julian Reichelt, editor in chief of Bild Berlin, said that there was currently a massive security operation under way.

“The scene certainly looks like a reminder of what we have seen in Nice,” Mr. Reichelt said,