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Security stepped up at Christmas markets across Europe, Canada

Barricades went up at Christmas markets across Europe and also in Canada.

world Updated: Dec 21, 2016 10:25 IST
Berlin truck attack,Terror attack in Europe,Christmas markets
A woman lights a candle at a makeshift memorial on December 20 in front of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedaechtniskirche in Berlin, where a truck crashed into a Christmas market .(AFP Photo)

Security was tightened at Christmas markets across Europe on Tuesday after a deadly truck attack on a market in Germany’s capital Berlin that killed 12 people and left nearly 50 wounded.

Britain, France, Italy, Denmark and Czech Republic have all beefed up security measures at Christmas markets which is a popular tradition throughout Europe for both residents and tourists.

Barricades also went up at Christmas markets in Montreal and Toronto -- Canada’s two most populous cities -- and security was increased in the wake of the truck rampage which the Islamic State claimed was carried out by one of its “soldiers.”

Christmas markets feature stalls with local food, mulled wine, warm chestnuts, scarves and tree ornaments, that draw large crowd of people and can be soft targets of attack .

French Christmas markets were already under heightened security. Paris’ Champs Elysees was lined with barriers and large concrete blocks straddled each entrance. Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said he was briefed last week on measures to prevent exactly the kind of attack that struck in Berlin.

Italy and the Czech Republic promised heightened security to come, while Danish, Norwegian and British police increased their presence at Christmas markets.

In Austria, a traditional home of the Christmas market, authorities said security would be stepped up around such sites

The BBC reported that UK police forces are reviewing security plans post the attack in Berlin.

A Number 10 spokesman said there were “no plans” to change the UK’s security level, which currently stands at “severe”, meaning a terror attack is highly likely.

Scotland Yard and Police Scotland said they were reviewing “detailed plans” for the festive period as a precaution following the attack and shooting of a Russian ambassador in Turkey.

Authorities in Poland, where the truck used in the Berlin rampage began its journey before being apparently hijacked, said they would lay on more police patrols around sensitive sites such as stations and shopping centres.

Belgium, where many of the plots in Europe have originated, left its alert level at “possible or likely” attack.

In Switzerland’s main Christmas market in Basle, police said entrances would henceforth be blocked by barriers or police vehicles.

In Canada, the national threat level however remained unchanged, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told AFP.

As revelers went about their usual holiday shopping, city crews laid large blocks of cement at the entrance of the Place des Arts in the north American country, which hosts one of the nation’s largest Christmas markets, while security searched visitors’ bags.

Similar security measures were taken at another popular Christmas market in Toronto, public broadcaster CBC reported.

First Published: Dec 21, 2016 10:20 IST