A tractor trailer barreled into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin on Monday night, killing 12 people and injuring 48 others. Witnesses said shoppers screamed and dropped packages and glasses of mulled wine as the truck plowed into the market.
Officials are investigating the crash as an act of terrorism, according to a German intelligence official familiar with the matter.
After a tip, Berlin police arrested a man on foot about a mile and a half away from the crash site. Authorities are working to determine whether he is linked to the case.
Some of the 48 people in the hospital have serious injuries, Berlin police tweeted.
The truck that was involved in the crash at Breitscheidplatz, in the western part of central Berlin, had Polish license plates, police spokeswoman Kerstin Ziesmer said. Berlin police tweeted that a passenger found dead in the truck was a Polish citizen.
Ariel Zurawski, owner of the truck company, told TVN 24, a private Polish television news network and CNN affiliate, the truck, carrying a steel shipment, may have been hijacked.
Zurawski said his cousin — the truck’s regular driver — couldn’t have been behind the wheel.
“My scenario is that they did something to him and hijacked this truck,” he said.
Witness Emma Rushton told CNN that the truck didn’t slow down. She said the truck was traveling about 40 mph through the crowded pedestrian area.
“There’s no way it was an accident,” Rushton said. “We saw at least 10 people” injured and lying on the ground.
Another witness, Shandana Durrani, was 20 feet away from the truck when it rammed several market stalls
“I think everybody thought there was a terrorist attack happening,” she said. “People dropped what they were carrying and ran for cover. … It seemed like the truck just jumped the curb and took a wrong turn and barreled through the crowd.”
Durrani, an American who moved to Berlin a few months ago, said slowing to respond to a text message “saved me from being hit.”
A police spokesperson told German media that they are treating the truck incident in Berlin as a terrorist attack.
“It looked like [it was done] on purpose,” a police officer who witnessed the incident told Berliner Zeitung.
Police evacuated the Christmas market and sealed it off. Law enforcement also set up a special area for the relatives of those injured, local media reported.
Julian Reichelt, editor-in-chief at Bild, a German tabloid newspaper, said the market would be busy every night of the week leading up to Christmas.
“It looks like something that was adapted by Nice,” Reichelt said, referring to the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, France, that left at least 80 people dead and more than 400 injured.
Police could not confirm whether Monday’s incident in Berlin was related to terror and had no information on the driver.
A man arrested under suspicion of ploughing a 7-tonne truck through a Christmas market in the heart of Berlin, killing 12, has been named in German media reports as Naved B, a 23-year-old asylum seeker of Pakistani origin.
No official confirmation has been provided at this time.
The suspect was picked up about 2 kilometers (1½ miles) away from the scene of the attack in which 12 were, near the Victory Column monument.
Berlin’s public radio station RBB-Inforadio reported that the suspect was a Pakistani citizen who entered Germany on Dec. 31, 2015, citing an unnamed security source.
This partly concurred with those in other German media.