Poles bid farewell to truck driver killed in Berlin attack

AP News
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Posted: Dec 30, 2016 9:26 AM
Poles bid farewell to truck driver killed in Berlin attack

BANIE, Poland (AP) — The bells of a brown stone church rang across a Polish village as hundreds of mourners gathered Friday to bid farewell to a truck driver killed in the Berlin Christmas market attack.

Lukasz Urban, 37, has been described as the first victim of the attack on Dec. 19 that killed a total of 12 people. He was waiting to deliver a shipment of steel in Berlin when his truck was hijacked by the Tunisian perpetrator of the attack. He was shot and his body was found in the cab of the truck.

Polish President Andrzej Duda joined Urban's family, friends and neighbors, gathering with them in the village church in Banie, near the border with Germany.

A day earlier, the president's spokesman said that Duda would attend the funeral to express his "huge respect for Lukasz Urban, who in the eyes of many Poles is definitely a hero, a courageous person."

Several other Polish political officials and a representative of the German Embassy in Poland were also there.

A letter from Prime Minister Beata Szydlo was read out in which she described her "great pain and sadness" and expressed her sympathy to Urban's family.

"Poles have fallen victim to terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic fundamentalists but the tragedy that happened in Berlin is unique when it comes to the ruthlessness and cruelty of the perpetrator," Szydlo said.

A bishop, Henryk Wejman, described Urban as a man who was open to others and conscientious in his work.

"His willingness to work and serve others awakened the trust of other people and openness to others," Wejman said in his homily.

As the Mass was winding down the president bowed his head before Urban's white coffin before approaching Urban's wife and teenage son, whispering to them, shaking their hands and kissing the wife's hand.

The coffin was then carried out of the church and placed in a hearse, which drove slowly through the village to a cemetery for burial, mourners walking with it.

Before and after the burial, a group of truck drivers honked the horns of their trucks to honor Urban.

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Gera reported from Warsaw.