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Acute threat over, terror danger endures: Merkel after killing of Berlin attacker

world Updated: Dec 23, 2016 21:30 IST
AFP, Berlin
Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefs the media in Berlin, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, after Anis Amri, the suspect of the terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin was shot in Milan, Italy. (AP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Friday of an enduring terror threat, despite the killing of the suspected perpetrator of the Berlin Christmas market attack.

“We can be relieved at the end of this week that the acute danger is over,” Merkel told reporters, welcoming the news that the Tunisian suspect, Anis Amri, had been shot dead overnight by Italian police.

“However the danger of terrorism in general endures, as it has for several years. We all know that,” she said.

Amid fierce criticism that authorities let Amri, a rejected asylum seeker with known ties to the jihadist scene, slip through their fingers, Merkel pledged a “comprehensive” analysis of what went wrong.

“The Amri case raises questions -- questions that are not only tied to this crime but also to the time before, since he came to Germany in July 2015” from Italy, she said.

“We will now intensively examine to what extent official procedures need to be changed.”

Merkel said she had ordered justice and interior ministers at the federal and state level to “analyse every aspect of the case and present their conclusions as soon as possible” so reforms, where needed, can be speedily implemented.

Merkel said she had also spoken with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi by telephone on Friday to discuss anti-terror efforts and inform him that Germany would be “signficantly accelerating” deportation of rejected asylum seekers.

She said it was the “primary duty of the government” to protect its citizens.

Read | Islamic State says man shot in Milan was Berlin attacker

However she stressed that Germany would not sacrifice its principles in the fight against terrorism.

“Our democracy, our rule of law, our values, our humanity -- they are the alternative to the hateful world of terrorism, and they will be stronger than terrorism,” she said.

Amri, 24, is believed to have killed 12 people and wounded dozens more in Monday’s assault on the Christmas market, which has been claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

Italy’s interior minister Marco Minniti told reporters in Rome that Amri had been fatally shot after pulling out a pistol and firing at police who had stopped him for a routine identity check around 3:00 am (0200 GMT) near Milan’s Sesto San Giovanni train station.