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A man arrested on suspicion of driving the semi-trailer truck that ploughed into a Christmas market in Berlin and killed 12 people was on Tuesday identified by German media and security sources as a 23-year-old of Pakistani origin.
The truck rammed into the market in the heart of the German capital on Monday night, injuring nearly 50 more. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack that was reminiscent of a similar assault with a truck in the French city of Nice that killed 86 in July.
A German security source was quoted Reuters as saying that the suspect, who fled after the attack and was held nearly 2 km from the Christmas market, was a “migrant from Pakistan”. The man arrived in Germany in February, was known to police for minor offences and used several names, the source said.
He was staying at a refugee hostel in the defunct Tempelhof airport, the source added.
Several German media outlets identified the suspect as Naved B and said he had sought asylum in Germany.
German terrorism and homeland security expert Michael Götschenberg tweeted the suspect was born in Pakistan on 1.1.1993.
#Berlin Sicherheitskreise: mutmaßlicher Fahrer des LKW am 31.12.2015 über Passau eingereist. Er soll am 1.1.1993 in Pakistan geboren sein.— Michael Götschenberg (@GoetschenbergM) December 20, 2016
There were also reports that the man found dead in the truck, believed to be a Polish man who was originally driving it, had been shot.
The dpa news agency cited its sources as saying that the suspect had come to Germany via the Balkan route and lived in a home for refugees in Berlin. It too reported that the suspect had used several names.
Die Welt newspaper reported that the suspect was caught after several “courageous witnesses” nailed him down. Several people informed authorities by telephone about the suspect leaving the scene after the attack and one witness pursued him from a safe distance, the report said.
Police prosecutor Winfried Wenzel said this witness followed him through dark areas and while informing an emergency call center on phone about the suspect’s movements.
After about 2km, a police patrol car stopped the suspect. “With the help of this witness, we were able to capture the suspect,” Wenzel was quoted as saying.