The Latest: Berlin attack suspect's relatives are questioned

AP News
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Posted: Dec 21, 2016 4:18 PM
The Latest: Berlin attack suspect's relatives are questioned

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on the deadly truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market (all times local):

10:15 p.m.

A spokesman for Tunisia's anti-terrorism judicial police says they have questioned the family of Anis Amri, the suspect that German authorities are searching for in the deadly truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market.

Spokesman Sofiane Selliti told The Associated Press that officials from two specialized brigades in Tunis and Kairouan interrogated family members of the suspect Wednesday at their home in the central Tunisian town of Oueslatia.

He did not say how many people were present at the interrogation. The suspect's family lives in poverty and his parents are divorced, according to Tunisia's Mosaique FM radio.

The truck attack Monday night in Berlin left 12 people dead and 48 injured.

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8:30 p.m.

Tunisia's Mosaique FM radio reports that the man being sought by Germany in connection with the Berlin Christmas market attack had previous convictions in Italy and his home country.

Mosaique FM quoted Anis Amri's father saying that his son left Tunisia about seven years ago and spent four years in a prison in Italy after being accused in a fire at a school.

He then moved to Germany more than a year ago. The father did not provide details and said he had no contact with his son, although his other sons did.

Mosaique FM quoted Tunisian security officials as saying that Amri was also convicted in absentia for aggravated theft with violence and sentenced to five years in prison.

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7:20 p.m.

German authorities say the suspect in Monday's deadly truck attack in Berlin was under covert surveillance for several months this year.

Berlin prosecutors told The Associated Press in a statement Wednesday that they launched an investigation against Anis Amri on March 14 followed a tip from federal security agencies.

The tip warned that Amri, who was considered a potential threat by authorities in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, might be planning a break-in to finance the purchase of automatic weapons for use in an attack.

Surveillance showed that Amri was involved in drug dealing in a Berlin park and involved in a bar brawl, but no evidence to substantiate the original warning. The observation was called off in September.

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5:45 p.m.

German authorities are offering a reward of up to 100,000 euros ($105,000) for the arrest of a Tunisian man suspected of involvement in the fatal attack on a Christmas market in Berlin.

Federal prosecutors describe 24-year-old Anis Amri as of average height and weight, with black hair and brown eyes.

In a public notice issued Wednesday, prosecutors warn that the suspect could be "dangerous and armed," and urge members of the public to notify police if they see him.

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5:05 p.m.

Berlin's city government says 12 people are still being treated for very serious injuries after the truck attack on a Christmas market.

Twelve people were killed and 48 wounded in Monday night's attack. Berlin's state health ministry said Wednesday that 12 people are still in hospital with very serious injuries, among them an unspecified number in critical condition.

However, it said that an increasing number of people with lighter injuries are being discharged.

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4:55 p.m.

A wanted notice for a Tunisian suspect in the truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin says the man should be considered armed and dangerous.

The notice, a European arrest warrant from Germany obtained by The Associated Press, indicates he has at times used six different aliases and three different nationalities.

It names Anis Amri as having Tunisian citizenship, born in the town of Ghaza. But it lists multiple aliases, many of them variants on his name, and Egyptian and Lebanese citizenship as well.

German authorities say they rejected the man's asylum request in July.

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4 p.m.

A senior German security official says the Tunisian man being sought in connection with Monday's truck attack in Berlin had been considered a possible terror threat by German authorities.

The interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, Ralf Jaeger, says "security agencies exchanged information about this person in the joint counter-terrorism center, the last time in November."

Jaeger told reporters on Wednesday that state police had launched proceedings against the man on suspicion that he was preparing a serious crime.

Separately, he says German authorities rejected the man's asylum request in July.

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2:50 p.m.

Stephan Mayer, a lawmaker with Germany's governing conservatives who speaks on domestic security matters, says the new suspect in the Berlin market attack being sought by German authorities is thought to be a Tunisian with ties to Islamic extremists.

Mayer says the man, whose wallet was found in the cab of the truck that slammed into a busy Christmas market in the German capital on Monday evening, was apparently meant to be deported from Germany earlier this year.

Mayer spoke Wednesday after being briefed by security officials about the investigation into the truck attack that left 12 people dead and nearly 50 injured.

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2:40 p.m.

Germany's interior minister has confirmed that authorities are seeking a new suspect in the deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says Wednesday that a manhunt has begun in Germany and in the European Union's border-free Schengen area. He gave no details on the suspect.

He also would neither confirm nor deny details published in German media, which reported that he's a Tunisian whose documents were found in the truck that killed 12 people and injured nearly 50 as it plowed into a Christmas market on Monday evening.

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2:30 p.m.

A Tunisian official says German investigators are trying to determine the role of a Tunisian man whose identity papers were found in the cab of the truck that smashed into Berlin's Christmas market.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the German government hasn't publicly commented on the potential suspect, said Tunisian authorities are requesting more information on the German probe into Anis Amri. He declined to comment further.

A Tunisian living in France was shot to death after carrying out a similar attack on Bastille Day revelers in the southern French city of Nice, killing 86 people.

— Bouazza ben Bouazza

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2:00 p.m.

The German government has agreed on a bill that will strengthen security considerations when it comes to video surveillance.

The move has been planned for months but its approval by the Cabinet on Wednesday comes two days after a deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin that sent German authorities scrambling for footage of the suspected perpetrator.

The proposed law would make data protection commissioners give greater weight than before to "the protection of life, health and freedom" when deciding whether to permit video surveillance in public places.

Germany has traditionally had very restrictive data protection rules.

The bill needs to be approved by Parliament.

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1:00 p.m.

The top security official in Germany's western state of North Rhine-Westphalia is planning to make a statement related to the truck attack in Berlin.

Officials say the state's interior minister, Ralf Jaeger, will make a statement at 3:30 p.m. (1430 GMT) Wednesday.

German media report that police are searching for a Tunisian man whose documents were found in the cab of the truck that plowed into a Berlin Christmas market Monday, killing twelve and injuring dozens.

The man's documents were issued in Kleve, a town in North Rhine-Westphalia state on the border with the Netherlands.

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12:15 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande says French intelligence services are in "constant contact" with German counterparts about extremist threats, notably since the truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market.

Hollande signed a book of condolences at the German Embassy in Paris on Wednesday for the 12 killed in Monday's attack. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group and echoed a similar attack in the French city of Nice in July.

Hollande promised solidarity and support for Germany, just as German authorities offered help when France has been attacked in recent years.

Hollande did not provide details of French police efforts to find the driver who rammed a truck into the Berlin market and is believed still at large.

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12 p.m.

German media report that authorities have identified and are searching for a suspect in connection with the fatal truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market.

The Allgemeine Zeitung in Mainz, weekly Der Spiegel and daily Welt reported Wednesday that police found documents in the truck cab that were issued to a Tunisian man. They did not cite any sources for the information.

German authorities had to release two suspects arrested in the wake of Monday's attack due to insufficient evidence. They had no immediate comment on Wednesday's reports.

Twelve people were killed and nearly 50 were injured in the attack on the Christmas market in Berlin.

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11:40 a.m.

Germany's president has visited patients at a Berlin hospital who were wounded in Monday's truck attack. The hospital's medical director says that they are suffering from pelvic and other injuries.

President Joachim Gauck said he spoke with three patients at the Charite hospital who faced operations on Wednesday and he was impressed by their "composure." He also met a man who had rushed to help in the aftermath of the rampage and was hit by a steel beam.

The Charite took in 13 patients after the attack, two of whom died. Medical director Ulrich Frei says that, among those who are still being treated, four have "severe trauma of the lower extremities and the pelvis."

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10:40 a.m.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry says that an Israeli man was seriously wounded in the truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin and his wife is missing.

Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Wednesday that the man is in stable condition following surgery. He says Israel is in touch "day and night" with German authorities to try to find the wife.

He declined to disclose the couple's personal details, saying only that the couple was in Berlin on holiday and that their relatives had arrived in Germany on Tuesday.

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8:30 a.m.

German investigators were searching Wednesday for the killer or killers in Monday's attack on a crowded Berlin Christmas market after a man arrested soon after the rampage was released for lack of evidence and the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

Police in Berlin said they had received 508 tips on the attack as of Tuesday night, but it wasn't clear whether prosecutors had any concrete leads.