German Police announced earlier on Monday that a truck has ploughed into a crowd close to a Christmas market in the German capital Berlin, situated at Breitscheidplatz square at the foot of the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church that was kept as a ruin after World War II, killing 12 people and injuring up to 48 others.
The Police said that the truck had Polish license plates and was carrying steel beams. It was aimed at the market at what would have been one of the most crowded times. There were adults and children gathering in the traditional cluster of stalls.
The Police then said on Twitter that they had taken one suspect into custody. The passenger from the truck, who was Polish national, had passed away as it crashed into people gathered around the wooden huts, which served mulled wine and sausages.
The driver fled the scene but was subsequently arrested at a later time. However, according to the Police, the nationality of the suspected driver was unclear.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has addressed the nation and said that the nation must assume it was a terrorist attack.
Ms Angela said that it would be repugnant if it was established a refugee was behind the wheel of the lorry which killed 12 people as it cut a bloody swathe through a Berlin Christmas market.
The German media named the 23-year-old Pakistani refugee Naved B. The passenger in the truck was believed to be the original driver who had his vehicle hijacked.
However, reports emerged that the police have detained the wrong man. German newspaper Die Welt have reported that the 23-year-old Pakistani man arrested in connection with the attack is innocent. “We have the wrong man. The real culprit is still armed at large and can cause new damage. The capital’s police and the special forces were informed,” said a source
While, police chief Klaus Kandt said during a press conference in response to a journalist’s question, “It is in fact unclear whether (the suspect) was the driver.”
The Pakistani man who registered for asylum in Berlin earlier this year who was detained near the scene shortly after the incident has denied involvement in the attack.
“We’ve got the wrong man and therefore a new situation. The true perpetrator is still armed, on the loose and can do fresh damage,” cited a police official.
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has commented on the incident and reported that it has been contacting registered Singaporeans in Berlin. Fortunately, no Singaporeans were directly affected or injured by the incident.
Here is what the Ministry wrote in full:
MFA Spokesman’s Comments on the Attack at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market in Berlin
Singapore is shocked by what appears to be a vicious attack at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market in Berlin on 19 December 2016 that killed and injured many people. We express our deepest condolences to the bereaved families, and wish the injured a speedy recovery. We also express our solidarity with the people of Germany during this period of grief.
The Singapore Embassy in Berlin has been contacting registered Singaporeans in Berlin. The Embassy is also in close contact with the local German authorities to ascertain whether there are any Singaporeans affected by the incident. Thus far, there are no reports of any Singaporeans directly affected or injured by the incident.
Singaporeans in Germany are advised to monitor closely the local news and heed the instructions of the local authorities. They should be vigilant and take the necessary precautions, including avoiding crowded places, and especially the incident site near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. They are also advised to keep in touch with their family and friends so that they know you are safe. Singaporeans are also advised to e-register with MFA if they have not done so. Singaporeans who require urgent consular assistance should contact the Singapore Embassy in Berlin or the 24-hour Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office at:
Embassy of the Republic of Singapore in Berlin
Tel: +49 30 2263430
Duty Hand-Phone: +49 152 2341 2182
Email: [email protected]
MFA Duty Office (24-hours)
Tel: +65 63798800/8855
Email: [email protected]
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan have written to German Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel and Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier respectively to convey their condolences on the attack at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market in Berlin on 19 December 2016.
Here is the letter from PM Lee:
20 December 2016
Dear Chancellor Merkel,
I am shocked by the vicious attack last night at a Christmas market in one of Berlin’s liveliest districts. Singapore condemns this senseless act of violence and stands in solidarity with Germany.
On behalf of the Government of Singapore, I offer our deepest condolences to the bereaved families. Our thoughts are with Germany and the German people.
LEE HSIEN LOONG
Her Excellency Dr Angela Merkel
Federal Republic of Germany
And this is the letter from Dr Balakrishnan:
20 December 2016
His Excellency Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs
Federal Republic of Germany
I am appalled by the attack at the Christmas market in Berlin on 19 December 2016, which claimed many lives and left many more injured.
Please accept my deepest condolences to the families of the victims. Singapore stands in solidarity with Germany during this challenging period.
DR VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN
Dr Balakrishnan also posted on his Facebook page saying that he is saddened by the news coming out of Europe overnight, of the killing of Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey and the many deaths at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market in Berlin.
He said that Singapore was shocked by what appears to have been a vicious attack in Berlin and offered the deepest condolences to the bereaved families.
He also advised Singaporeans in Germany to monitor closely the local news and heed the instructions of the local authorities.
“Please be vigilant and take precautions. Please also keep in touch with your family and friends,” he said.
“If you have not yet e-registered, please do so at eregister.mfa.gov.sg. If you require urgent consular assistance, you can contact the Singapore Embassy in Berlin or the 24-hour Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office,” he added.
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen also posted on his Facebook page that he had written to his counterpart, German DM Dr Ursula von der Leyen today, to express deep condolence for the many lives taken and injured in the truck crash at the Berlin Christmas Market last night.
“DM Ursula and I had just met recently in Bahrain a week ago for the Manama dialogue and in fact spoke on the same panel on the impact of terrorism beyond the Middle East. We both shared the risks to innocent residents in our respective regions and called for joint collaboration and efforts to deal with the threat of terrorism,” he wrote.