The number of victims killed in the Christmas market attack in the German capital of Berlin has risen to 12 dead and 48 others wounded.
The German interior minister confirmed that details of the incident indicated that it was an “attack,” while media reported that the Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the operation.
The Berlin police said on Twitter that the number of dead had risen to 12, after three wounded people died in hospitals from their injuries.
They added that the number of wounded remained at 48, adding that a large number of those injured were in a “critical condition” and that the death toll could rise.
The Bild newspaper quoted police and rescue sources as saying the truck had entered the Christmas market near the memorial church in central Berlin and crushed a number of people.
According to the newspaper, which on its website headlined the incident “terror in Berlin,” a large number of ambulances had arrived at the scene of the incident, and carried away dozens of wounded.
The police closed all the entrances and exists to the market after the incident as its officers spread out through the area.
The Berlin Morning Post newspaper quoted unnamed witnesses as saying the truck headed toward a group of people without any warning lights, which suggested the incident was intentional and not an accident.
Berlin police on their Twitter account published a number of tweets in which they called on citizens to remain calm, remain in their homes, and leave all routes open to facilitate its officers’ movements.
The police said that they had arrested a suspect (but have since let him go after an initial investigation cleared the man, while police say the real driver is still at large). A Polish national was also found dead inside the truck.
The police said in one of their tweets that investigations were ongoing and announced a “state of alert around terrorist attacks.”
The German interior minister, Thomas De Maizere, said that he did not want a lot of speculation, but that “details of the incident indicate it was an attack.”
German radio meanwhile said that the Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the incident, noting the lack of official German comment about the announcement claiming the attack.
Meanwhile, a police spokesperson told the Die Welt newspaper that there was no danger to citizens and tourists in Berlin and that the “situation is safe.”
The newspaper said that there had been information about a planned attack on Christmas markets before the incident without giving more details.
A Lebanese refugee in his 20s named Amer, who was at the site, said that one German was shouting in the area blaming refugees for the incident and for the country’s problems, but a group of passersby succeeded in containing him.
The refugee added that if the terrorist theory was confirmed it would negatively affect Arab and Muslim refugees in Germany.
The German capital is famous for the Christmas markets spread in its main squares and streets from November 21 to December 31 every year.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.