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Summary

  1. So-called Islamic State (IS) claims responsibility for Monday's truck attack at a Berlin market, which killed 12 people and injured 49
  2. The registered driver of the Polish lorry is reported to have been found dead with gunshot wounds
  3. German police have released a Pakistani suspect, saying there is no evidence against him
  4. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller attend a vigil at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
  5. Mr Mueller says "the entire free world mourns the victims of this cowardly and inhumane attack on our peaceful way of living"

Live Reporting

By Yaroslav Lukov, Tom Spender, Alastair Lawson and Hugo Bachega

All times stated are UK

End of our live coverage

We are pausing our live coverage of the investigations over Monday's lorry attack in Berlin. Here's a round-up of the latest:

  • So-called Islamic State has said one of its "soldiers" carried out Monday's attack; the identity of the attacker has not been established
  • German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere reacted cautiously to the claim, saying "several lines of investigation" were being pursued.  
  • Prosecutors have freed the only suspect, citing insufficient evidence. He was identified by media only as Pakistani national Naved B.
  • You can find all the latest developments here
  • Here's what we know so far about the attack
  • Read more about previous attacks in Germany

IS opportunism in claiming attack?

IS militants raising their weapons as they stand on a vehicle mounted with the trademark Jihadists flag at an undisclosed location in the Anbar province in 2014
AFP

The claim of the lorry attack in Berlin by so-called Islamic State (IS) does not prove much in terms of the attack. The group often refers to individuals who carry out attacks as its "soldiers" but the crucial question is firstly whether the individual had any form of direct contact with IS.

Face-to-face or online communication are possible but far from certain. If there was no direct contact, it could still be the case that an individual was inspired rather than directed by the group.

In this case, an individual may leave his or her own pledge of allegiance in written form or online or in a video.

But until such evidence emerges, it remains hard to know if this is just an opportunistic claim by the group rather than one based on real substance.

Attack highlights 'man before technology' debate

The truck which was used to carry out the attack was probably equipped with all the latest technology to prevent an accident, including an emergency braking system, Die Welt (in German) says. 

But it points out that such technical aids can be over-ruled or disabled by the driver, backing up the "man before technology" motto which insists a human rather than a machine should ultimately be in control. 

However this internationally accepted regulation is increasingly colliding with new developments in automated or autonomous driving, the paper says, even though experts at present say the technology is not available for a bystander to stop an out-of-control truck.

Motives of attack 'still unclear'

Forensic experts examine the scene around a truck that crashed into a Christmas market on 20 December
AFP

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told ZDF television that it was beyond doubt that the truck incident was an attack, but that the motives remained unclear.

He added that it was still unclear if there were any foreigners among the victims, but said that there were no children among the dead, Reuters news agency reports.

Cautious German reaction to Islamic State claim

Germany's Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere has reacted cautiously to the claim by the group known as Islamic State that it carried out the attack.

"This alleged claim of responsibility of the so-called Islamic State, which in reality is nothing but a gang of terrorists, only just came in. Until then there wasn't any claim," he said.

"Sometimes they [the claims] are issued somewhat later... There are several lines of investigation we are pursuing. We should let the security services do their job. They are working hard and no one will stop until the perpetrator or the perpetrators have been arrested."  

In pictures: Tributes paid to the victims

A policeman holds a rose in tribute to the victims of the truck attack in Berlin
EPA
A policeman at the scene of the truck attack holds a rose in honour of those who were killed
People place flowers and candles in tribute to the victims at the site of the lorry attack in Berlin
EPA
Flowers and candles jostle for space at the scene of the attack
A minute of silence for the victims of the attack was held ahead of the German Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Augsburg in Dortmund
EPA
A minute of silence for the victims of the attack was held ahead of the German Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Augsburg in Dortmund
Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at a Church service at the Church of remembrance at Breitscheidplatz
Getty Images
Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a church service in remembrance of the victims in Breitscheidplatz, Berlin
A note is placed among bunch of flowers to pay tribute to the victims at the site of the lorry attack in Berlin
EPA
For Berliners the terrible attack of 19 December will for a long time be remembered

Merkel's door to migrants 'may be about to slam shut'

"After Berlin, Angela Merkel’s open door to migrants might be about to slam shut," writes Josef Joffe in The Guardian.

"Recall last year when she flung the country's doors wide open. Proclaiming "wir schaffen das" - we can do it - she essentially relinquished control over Germany's borders. 

"Some 800,000 people from the Middle East as well as North Africa arrived. 

"Merkel now says that if the perpetrator is indeed a refugee, 'this would be extremely hard for us to bear', and it 'would be particularly repugnant for all those Germans, who toil daily to help refugees'. 

 "Thus do good intentions come to a nasty end," Josef Joffe comments. 

Victims remembered at Bundesliga match

A fan holds a sign as he remembers the victims of the Berlin attack before the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Augsburg at Signal Iduna Park
Getty Images
A fan holds a sign in honour of the victims of the Berlin attack before the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Augsburg at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund.

BreakingIslamic State says it carried out Berlin attack

The group known as Islamic State claims responsibility for the truck attack - its self-styled Amaq news agency says.

Dead truck passenger 'a good guy'

The Polish owner of the truck used in the attack has said the dead man on the passenger seat was his employee and cousin.

Ariel Zurawski said that Lukasz Urban, 37, was a "good guy", AFP reports. 

Police said he appeared to have been stabbed and shot. 

"One person would not have been able to overpower him," Mr Zurawski said, describing his cousin as a heavyset man who weighed 120kg (265lb) and stood 183 cms (6ft) tall. 

"We could see injuries. His face was bloodied and swollen," Zurawski told private news channel TVN 24, referring to a photo of the body he received from Polish police. 

"There was a stab wound. Police also told me there was a gunshot wound," he said, adding that the dead man's family - including his widow and 17-year-old son - were in shock.

Rise of 'criminals-turned-terrorist suspects'

Lorry Truck Drives Through Christmas Market In Berlin
Getty

As investigators try to work out the motive of a driver who drove the killer lorry on Monday in Berlin, new data shows that European authorities are not just guarding against terror plots using weapons like trucks or bombs, The Washington Post says.

"They are also concerned about a more conventional threat: illegal firearms that may be increasingly easy for suspected terror networks to obtain".

Citing figures released by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence at King's College London, the paper says that "criminals-turned-terrorist suspects" are increasingly becoming a problem. 

"The research center collected extensive data on 79 recent European militants with criminal pasts. About 80% of those involved in recent terrorism plots had criminal convictions," the paper says.

Identity of Berlin attacker 'vital' for Merkel

Damian Grammaticas

Europe correspondent

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a press conference on 20 December
AFP

For Angela Merkel the legacy of the Berlin attack will be political. It’s not clear who the perpetrator was. But if it proves to be someone who came as a refugee, the German chancellor will face more pressure.

She has stuck to her welcoming policy towards refugees fleeing war and persecution, and a majority of Germans have continued to back her. But Mrs Merkel’s political opponents, notably the far right Alternative fur Deutschland, have attacked her again following the Berlin attack, saying she has compromised Germany’s security by letting in people without knowing who they are.

It’s a charge they will seek to press as Germany gears up for federal elections next year. The AfD had surged in regional elections this year. But Germany’s main parties have all said they will shun any question of sharing power with the AfD next year. And Angela Merkel has seen her support rise in recent polls.

It’s why the issue of who carried out the Berlin attack is vital for Mrs Merkel and her vision of a free, open Germany.

Cologne train station bomb threat 'false'

Cologne's main train station was briefly evacuated after a telephone bomb threat, but it turned out to be a false alarm, a German police spokesman was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

This user posted on Twitter a picture that, he said, showed the station being evacuated.

View more on twitter

German officials: 'Insufficient evidence' against suspect

German prosecutors say the Pakistani man who was arrested after Monday's truck attack in Berlin has been released because of "insufficient evidence".

The man detained, who had denied involvement, arrived in Germany at the end of last year. He was captured in a park after reportedly fleeing the scene. 

"The accused, detained over the attack on the Berlin Christmas market on December 19, 2016, was let go on this evening on the orders of the federal prosecutor," his office said in a statement.

"The forensic tests carried out so far did not provide evidence of the accused's presence during the crimes in the cab of the lorry."

A tow truck operates at the scene where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Berlin Christmas market
Reuters

BreakingPakistani suspect 'is released'

The Pakistani suspect arrested after Monday's attack has been released, media reports say.

'Entire free world mourns' - Berlin mayor

Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are among hundreds of people taking part in a vigil at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church - next to the scene of the attack. 

Addressing the gathering, Mr Mueller said: "Together we remember the victims of this horrific attack and we stand with the relatives and friends in this difficult hour and say: you are not alone.

"We share your pain; the whole of Berlin, the entire free world mourns the victims of this cowardly and inhumane attack on our peaceful way of living." 

The Economist: A turning point in Germany's politics?

"If the attack in Berlin marks the start of a French-style jihadist campaign in Germany, it could herald a turning point in the country’s politics," the Economist says.

"Conscious of its historical burden and bound by its political system to put moderate, consensus-oriented coalitions into power, Germany is unusually immune to populist sensationalism compared with many of its neighbours. 

"But that may not last if the killing goes on."

Commemorative ceremony starts

Hundreds of people have gathered around a church at the square near the scene of Monday's attack to commemorate the victims.

Deutsche Welle reporter Birgitta Schulke tweeted that church bells were ringing as the ceremony was about to start. 

#Berlin Church bells #Breitscheidplatz are ringing as the commemoration ceremony is about to start #berlinattack… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…

Can police protect Christmas crowds?

Gordon Corera

Security correspondent, BBC News

Armed police officers on patrol at a Christmas market in Wiesbaden, Germany
EPA
Armed police patrol a Christmas market in Wiesbaden, Germany

No-one should be surprised that a Christmas market was attacked or even the way the attack was carried out. 

But the challenges in preventing such low-tech attacks are complex. A decade ago those working with al-Qaeda tended to plan more complex attacks involving explosives. This often required international travel and training as well as communication and such plots took time to develop.  

This all provided potential opportunities for intelligence agencies to learn about the plans and interdict them. 

But if an individual is inspired by so-called Islamic State but not in touch with them and acts either alone or in a small cell, then it can be harder to spot them. By the time they hijack a lorry just before an attack, the worst case is that it is more of a case of protecting possible sites rather than spotting them.

There may be questions though as to whether enough was done in Berlin given that this threat was known about. 

The US state department issued a warning in late November telling American citizens to exercise caution at "holiday festivals, events and outdoor markets". 

Increased security was put in place at some Christmas markets – such as the more famous one at Strasbourg with checks on people and restrictions on vehicle movements.  

But one risk is that if all markets are not secured to the same standard, it might simply divert an attacker to a less well defended target. 

German officials have sought to defend their preparations, especially since there do not appear to have been obstacles capable of stopping a lorry in Berlin.

Read more from Gordon

#BeStrongBerlin

A simple message from Berlin's police tonight.

Earlier we showed you Brandenburg Gate was lit up in the colours of the German national flag.

The famous landmark has also been lit in the colours of the flag of Berlin - red, white and red stripes with a black bear in the middle.

'No attack could sway our determination' - Obama

US President Barack Obama on Monday night spoke on the phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to offer condolences, the White House says in a statement released on Tuesday, Reuters reports. 

It says Mr Obama described the lorry incident as a "horrific apparent terrorist attack", adding that the US stood ready to provide assistance to German investigators. 

Mr Obama stressed "that no attack could sway our determination - and that of our German allies - to defeat terrorism in all of its forms," the statement says. 

Attacker 'drove around market before aiming at crowds' - report

police stand guard at xmas market
Reuters

Der Spiegel (in German) says it has been told that Polish lorry driver Lukasz Urban died from a single shot to the head from a small-calibre gun and was already dead when the attacker drove the vehicle at Christmas market crowds.

The attacker reportedly also drove around the market before aiming the vehicle at people, perhaps in order to get a better run-up, Spiegel reports.

The attacker got out of the lorry and was followed by a witness who is then said to have lost him in the Tiergarten park.

A Pakistani man was later arrested at the Victory Monument on the basis of the description of the attacker given to police by the witness, Spiegel says.

Austria arrests Moroccan over separate Christmas market 'plot'

Austria has arrested a 25-year-old asylum seeker from Morocco on suspicion of planning an attack during the holiday season in the city of Salzburg, prosecutors say. 

Police were acting on information that a group of men had discussed such an attack and the Moroccan was the main suspect, Reuters reports.

Although a search of his accommodation in a centre for asylum seekers in the town of Fuschl am See, where the man was living, found "no materials clearly required for the execution of an attack", a police spokesman said it could not be ruled out that he was planning an attack.

Six victims identified all German nationals

Six of the 12 people killed in the attacks have been identified, says Holger Munch, the head of Germany's federal criminal police office. 

He says all six are German nationals, adding that the identities of the other six are yet to be established.

24 injured people leave hospital - police

Berlin police say that 24 people injured in Monday's attack have now left hospital to reunite with their relatives.

In all, 12 people were killed and 48 wounded when the lorry ploughed into Berlin's Christmas market.

Germany's interior minister earlier said that 18 of the injured were in a serious condition.

Wer are full of hope, 24 injured people were able to leave hospital again and return to their realtives.

'Co-driver identified'

Ariel Zurawski shows the last photo taken of his cousin Lukasz Urban
ap
Ariel Zurawski shows the last photo taken of his cousin Lukasz Urban

More from the Polish owner of the lorry involved in Monday's attack (see our previous entry at 15:27).

Ariel Zurawski has identified the man found dead in the vehicle's cabin as his cousin Lukasz Urban, Associated Press reports. 

He is reported to be 37 year old from western Poland, near the German border. 

Watch: We must still enjoy Christmas - market trader

BBC Radio 5 live

A Christmas market trader who witnessed the lorry attack says people have to still “live Christmas as it’s supposed to be”.

Sofiane, 29, said he was “supposed to be one of the victims” as his stall was originally meant to be on the side that got hit. Its position was changed “at the last minute”.

He told BBC Radio 5 live's Nick Garnett that his “thoughts” were with the victims' families and that people should respond by "living [their] lives".

Sofiane, 29, witnessed the Berlin lorry attack. He wants people to still enjoy Christmas.

Berliners light candles to remember victims

As darkness falls, BBC's Nick Garnett tweets, Berliners have been lighting candles to remember the victims of Monday's attack.

As darkness falls, Christmas markets are silent as Berliners come down with candles to remember those who died.

As darkness falls, Christmas markets are silent as Berliners come down with candles to remember those who died.

Right wing German party AfD blames Chancellor for the attack

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

The right-wing German party Alternatives Fuer Deutschland has blamed Chancellor Merkel for the attack on the Berlin market.

They have criticised Mrs Merkel's decision to allow around a million migrants into Germany over the past two years.

Beatrix von Storch, a German MEP, and AfD's vice-chair, tells BBC's The World at One programme that "it is not possible to let in so many refugees" and "as far we know the terrorist was one of them".

Read more: What does Alternative for Germany (AfD) want?

Police examining mobile phone

Berlin police chief Klaus Kandt says police are examining a mobile phone they seized during a night-time search at Berlin’s now-defunct Tempelhof airport, where asylum seekers are living, Focus magazine reports.

Referring to the suspect now being questioned by police, Mr Kandt said “I’m pretty sure we found the correct place – that is, where he spent the night”.

Police say the suspect had previously come to their attention, but he was not listed in connection with weapons or possible links to Islamists.

'Co-driver was my cousin' - Polish lorry owner

Ariel Zurawski speaks to reporters
AP
Ariel Zurawski speaks to reporters

The Polish owner of the lorry has said he confirmed the identity of the man found dead in the vehicle after police had shown him a photograph. 

Ariel Zurawski told Polish TV via Reuters that the man, who he says was his cousin, was "stabbed to death and shot". 

"Stab wounds were clearly visible on the photo, it was a photo showing the face of my cousin, it was really clear that he had been fighting. His face was all swollen and bloodied. 

"The last contact we had with the driver was at 15:00 (on Monday) when his wife called him," Mr Zurawski said.

German police earlier said the man had been shot.

Merkel holds crisis meeting with security chiefs

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (centre-back) holds a meeting with security chiefs and ministers in Berlin
EPA

Earlier on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel held a crisis meeting with top security officials and cabinet ministers to discuss how to respond to the attack.

'We are worried about how the German public will now view us' - refugee

Tempelhof airport in Berlin
Getty Images

A refugee living in makeshift accommodation in Berlin has said he is worried how the German people will view migrants in light of the lorry attack.

Special forces officers searched a hangar at the former Tempelhof airport, which is home to about 2,000 migrants, following the Monday's attack.

Ibrahim Sufi, a 26-year-old Syrian living at the airport, told Reuters: "We are of course worried.

"We are worried about how the German public will view us after this terrorist attack.

"My message to the Germans is: 'Don't suspect everybody, don't generalise.'"

Police pay tribute to victims

Berlin police tweet that "with deep sadness" officers observed a minute's silence to think of the victims of the attack.

View more on twitter

Concrete barriers around Christmas markets

Concrete barriers in Dresden
Getty Images

Concrete barriers have been put up to protect shoppers at the Christmas market in Dresden.

BBC's Berlin correspondent Jenny Hill tweets that barriers are also being put up at other large Christmas markets.

German interior minister says concrete barriers to be put up around some large Christmas markets - in some cases straight away

UK PM 'shocked' by Berlin images

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has offered her condolences to those affected by Monday's attack in Berlin. 

"We've seen very vivid images in our newspapers and on television and I think they've shocked us all," she told MPs in London.

"And I just wanted to express our condolences. I'm sure the condolences of all of us are with those who mourn and all those who've been affected and we hold them in our thoughts today."