By G9ija.com

  • At least 45 injured and nine dead after truck sped at 40mph through shoppers at busy Christmas market
  • Police indicated the incident is likely to be a terror attack as driver is arrested and passenger in cab died
  • Speculation the Polish-registered lorry was hijacked as the haulage firm said they lost contact with the driver 
  • Police using Twitter to urge locals to stay indoors and check ‘suspicious items’ as Angela Merkel is ‘mourning’

At least nine people have been killed and 45 injured – some critically – after a lorry ploughed through a crowd of shoppers at 40mph in a busy Christmas market in Berlin.

As German police indicated the incident may be terror related, ISIS moved quickly to claim responsibility for the fatal attack.

The vehicle mounted the pavement before tearing through stalls as it travelled the length of the market on Breitscheidplatz Square, outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the German capital’s main shopping area.

After the driver was arrested nearby and another person was found dead in the cab, there was speculation this evening that the Polish-registered lorry may have been stolen from a construction site in Poland as the haulage firm said they lost contact with the driver in the afternoon.

The vehicle left a trail of devastation in its wake, in a chilling echo of the deadly terror attack in the French city of Nice in July – and came just one hour after the Russian ambassador was shot dead in Ankara.

The incident comes amid repeated warnings from security agencies that supporters of Islamic State could launch lone wolf terror attacks at festive markets across Europe.

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The vehicle left a trail of devastation in its wake, in a chilling echo of the deadly terror attack in the French city of Nice in July - and comes just one hour after the Russian ambassador was shot dead in Ankara

The vehicle left a trail of devastation in its wake, in a chilling echo of the deadly terror attack in the French city of Nice in July – and comes just one hour after the Russian ambassador was shot dead in Ankara

At least nine people have been killed and around 45 injured after a lorry ploughed through a crowd of shoppers at a busy Christmas market in Berlin

At least nine people have been killed and around 45 injured after a lorry ploughed through a crowd of shoppers at a busy Christmas market in Berlin

According to local reports, the driver of the heavy goods vehicle has not yet been apprehended and police have launched a manhunt

Germany’s justice minister says federal prosecutors, who handle terrorism cases, had taken over the investigation, while police used Twitter to urge locals to stay in their homes and ‘check suspicious objects’.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile, says she is ‘mourning the dead’.

The truck owner said he lost contact with his cousin, who was transporting steel beams from Poland to Germany

Last night, speaking on Polish news channel TVN24, the owner of the haulage firm said: ‘I can say hand on heart that the man who drove into those people in the centre of Berlin was not my driver.

‘This is my cousin. I’ve known him since I was born. My scenario is that they did something to the driver – they hijacked this vehicle because it was practically in the centre of Berlin and they had a good vehicle with which they could do what they did.

‘It wasn’t my driver, the one that was driving it. They did something to my driver, God forbid, something serious. It looks like that.’

German police have urged civilians to remain at home

German police have urged civilians to remain at home

Mike Fox, a tourist from Birmingham, said the large truck missed him by about three meters as it drove into the market, tearing through tables and wooden stands.

‘It was definitely deliberate,’ he said.

Mr Fox said he helped people who appeared to have broken limbs, and said others were trapped under Christmas stands, adding: ‘We were in the market, outside the cathedral and we had just had mulled wine then as we were leaving the large truck came through.

‘It went just past me, past my girlfriend. I think it missed me by three metres, missed her by five.

‘It came in through the entrance, hit the sides of the barriers and then carried on past us.’

Emma Rushton from Rugby in Warwickshire, tweeted from the scene: ‘Lorry just ploughed through Christmas market in #berlin.

‘There is no road nearby. People crushed. I am safe. I am safe’.

She saw the lorry rush past her at speed and said it could not have been an accident.

She told Sky News she only missed being caught in the chaos because she had climbed up some steps to take a seat.

Ms Rushton said: ‘The stall that we bought our mulled wine from was completely crushed. People were tearing off wooden panels to get out.

‘It was not an accident. It was going 40mph, it was in the middle of the market. There was no way that it could have come off the road and it showed no signs of slowing down.’

TOURISTS WARNED OF TERROR ATTACKS AT CHRISTMAS MARKETS

Just weeks ago, US tourists were warned to be on high alert if visiting traditional markets in Europe due to a heightened terror threat.

The US State Department issued the advice for citizens travelling to the continent during the holiday season.

The warning came after it was revealed ISIS encouraged lone jihadis to use trucks as weapons to target large-scale events.

‘I heard a big noise and then I moved on the Christmas market and saw much chaos…many injured people,’ Jan Hollitzer, deputy editor in chief of Berliner Morgenpost, told CNN. ‘It was really traumatic.’

Richard Clarkson, from Brighton, told the Irish Independent he was at a bar called Irish Bar with his friends on the street near were the incident happened.

One of his friends heard a bang. He said: ‘I just walked out and I saw the truck, the windscreen was broken, I didn’t see any bodies they were very quick to cover them up I think.’

‘The word terrorist is being thrown around a lot at the moment and people seem scared.’

At 9.35pm police announced the arrest of someone in connection with the attack – believed to be the driver of the truck.

The vehicle maneuvered from Budapester Strasse onto the area outside the Memorial Church before ploughing into the crowd.

The Die Welt newspaper said that German intelligence had been warning city authorities for the past week of a possible attack on a Christmas market.

Scenes of chaos for market-goers after Berlin terror attack
The vehicle maneuvered from Budapester Strasse onto the area outside the Memorial Church before ploughing into the crowd

The vehicle maneuvered from Budapester Strasse onto the area outside the Memorial Church before ploughing into the crowd

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says that he's in constant touch with security authorities, but didn't give any indication in a statement whether they believe the incident was an attack

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says that he’s in constant touch with security authorities, but didn’t give any indication in a statement whether they believe the incident was an attack

Federal prosecutors, who handle terrorism cases, have taken over the investigation according to justice minister Heiko Maas, who said in a tweet 'we are mourning with the relatives' of the victims

Federal prosecutors, who handle terrorism cases, have taken over the investigation according to justice minister Heiko Maas, who said in a tweet ‘we are mourning with the relatives’ of the victims

The vehicle mounted the pavement before speeding through a crowd of shoppers, tearing through stalls as it travelled the entire length of the market

The vehicle mounted the pavement before speeding through a crowd of shoppers, tearing through stalls as it travelled the entire length of the market

Aerial shots from the scene show the devastating aftermath at the crash scene and debris around the truck 

Aerial shots from the scene show the devastating aftermath at the crash scene and debris around the truck

Germany's justice minister says that federal prosecutors, who handle terrorism cases, are taking over the investigation after a truck rammed into a Christmas market in Berlin

Germany’s justice minister says that federal prosecutors, who handle terrorism cases, are taking over the investigation after a truck rammed into a Christmas market in Berlin

German intelligence had apparently been warning city authorities for the past week of a possible attack on a Christmas market

German intelligence had apparently been warning city authorities for the past week of a possible attack on a Christmas market

There are dozens of ambulances and fire engines at the scene as they work to recover bodies and help those injured

There are dozens of ambulances and fire engines at the scene as they work to recover bodies and help those injured

The truck ploughed through the entire length of the market - crashing through market stalls and innocent bystanders

The truck ploughed through the entire length of the market – crashing through market stalls and innocent bystanders

Ambulances line the streets as rescue workers treat those at the scene 

Ambulances line the streets as rescue workers treat those at the scene

Berlin: Truck ‘missed us by a few metres’ says eyewitness

Sabrina Glinz, an American tourist, is now locked in her hotel after a number of buildings in the area were placed on lockdown.

Watching the scene unfold from the 15th floor, she told Sky News: ‘You just keep seeing people getting loaded into ambulances and it doesn’t seem to end.

‘Just the white sheets covering them.’

She added: ‘The street that he has to have gone in you have do a u-turn on the street to turn around and instead of doing a u-turn he turned right directly into the market.

‘There was absolutely no way he could have accidentally, he went straight into it then veered to the left and is now back onto the main street were the truck is resting.

‘He went back to the beginning were it was busiest and then just careered through the buildings.

Truck windscreen smashed after terrifying crash at Berlin market
An injured man is pushed to an ambulance at the site of an accident as scores of others are treated at the scene

An injured man is pushed to an ambulance at the site of an accident as scores of others are treated at the scene

The vehicle sped through a crowd of shoppers at the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz Square near the Kurfuerstendamm Avenue in west Berlin

The vehicle sped through a crowd of shoppers at the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz Square near the Kurfuerstendamm Avenue in west Berlin

Police subsequently said nine had been killed and that one person has been detained over the incident - which comes less than a week before Christmas

Police subsequently said nine had been killed and that one person has been detained over the incident – which comes less than a week before Christmas

Ambulances and police rushed to the area after the driver drove up the pavement of the market in a central square popular with tourists, in scenes reminiscent of the deadly truck attack in the French city of Nice in July

Ambulances and police rushed to the area after the driver drove up the pavement of the market in a central square popular with tourists, in scenes reminiscent of the deadly truck attack in the French city of Nice in July

The heavy goods vehicle can be seen clearly damaged - and the driver has yet to be apprehended, according to local reports 

The heavy goods vehicle can be seen clearly damaged – and the driver has yet to be apprehended, according to local reports

Police stand outside a tent near the Christmas market in Berlin as those injured in the devastating crash are treated 

Police stand outside a tent near the Christmas market in Berlin as those injured in the devastating crash are treated

Armed police are standing guard at the entrance to the market and around Berlin 

Armed police are standing guard at the entrance to the market and around Berlin

Several people have died while dozens have been injured as police investigate the attack at a market outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Several people have died while dozens have been injured as police investigate the attack at a market outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Damaged Berlin market truck has cracked windscreen and dents
Police, fire crews and paramedics have raced to the scene of the incident in Berlin

Police, fire crews and paramedics have raced to the scene of the incident in Berlin

The truck ran into the market outside the landmark Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church this evening

The truck ran into the market outside the landmark Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church this evening

Police say the first indications from the investigation suggest the truck crash was a terror attack 

Police say the first indications from the investigation suggest the truck crash was a terror attack

The horrific incident has taken place at a site popular among tourists 

The horrific incident has taken place at a site popular among tourists

Police have closed off the busy market and launched a manhunt for the suspect, who was arrested nearby shortly afterwards

Police have closed off the busy market and launched a manhunt for the suspect, who was arrested nearby shortly afterwards

CHILLING ECHOES OF SLAUGHTER IN NICE

The incident evoked memories of an attack in France in July when Tunisian-born Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, drove a 19-tonne truck along the beach front, mowing down people who had gathered to watch the fireworks on Bastille Day, killing 86 people.

The attack was claimed by Islamic State.

Only last week it was revealed that a 12-year-old boy tried to bomb the Christmas market in the town of Ludwigshafen with a nail bomb – twice.

The boy, of Iraqi-German parents, was radicalised only recently and is now in the care of the local youth authorities.

Both the Berliner Zeitung newspaper and the Berliner Morgenpost reported the truck ran into the market outside the landmark Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church this evening.

A photo posted by the Morgenpost showed damaged tables and stalls.

The Berliner Zeitung said police believed there to be multiple injuries, but police could not immediately be reached to confirm the death toll or number injured.

The incident has happened this evening in a busy Christmas market in Berlin, Germany 

The incident has happened this evening in a busy Christmas market in Berlin, Germany

‘We heard a really loud bang!’: Berlin truck crash witness
Medics are furiously working to treat those injured at the scene, after the truck caused carnage and left a trail of devastation in its wake

Medics are furiously working to treat those injured at the scene, after the truck caused carnage and left a trail of devastation in its wake

Berlin Christmas market crash victim taken away on a stretcher
Several more people have been injured as they lay trapped beneath the vehicle, which sped through a crowd of shoppers

Several more people have been injured as they lay trapped beneath the vehicle, which sped through a crowd of shoppers

Emergency lights flicker at scene of deadly Berlin market crash
View of the Christmas market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, Germany

View of the Christmas market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, Germany

German media have reported that several people have been injured in the incident in Berlin

German media have reported that several people have been injured in the incident in Berlin

Was the truck HIJACKED? Cousin of driver registered to Polish lorry claims he was ‘only making a drop off in Berlin’ as it’s revealed haulage firm lost contact with him moments before crash 

The truck that killed nine people as it ploughed into a Christmas market in Berlin must have been hijacked, according to the Polish driver’s cousin.

Nine were killed and 50 more injured when the truck careered through the busy square today in a massacre similar to the one in Nice that left 86 dead in July.

Police believe it could be an act of terrorism and have arrested one man near the scene, while another was found dead in the cab of the Polish-registered truck.

Various eyewitnesses claimed that the act was deliberate after the truck did not slow down as it drove through people at around 40mph.

But the driver’s cousin today claimed that he had no links to terrorist groups, and could not have been responsible for today’s massacre.

The cousin, who owns the Polish haulage firm, said that they lost contact with the driver at around 4pm today, prompting rumours the truck was hijacked.

It is not known if the man found dead in the lorry was killed before or during the crash, and police have refused yet to release the identity or nationality.

There is speculation that the man killed in the cab was the Polish driver, while the man arrested could have hijacked the vehicle then escaped.

His cousin said that he had only planned to make a quick stop in Berlin while on his way from Italy to Poland, 80 miles north of Berlin.

The lorry ploughed through a Christmas market in Berlin, killing several bystanders and injuring dozens more

The lorry ploughed through a Christmas market in Berlin, killing several bystanders and injuring dozens more

More shoppers were thought to be have been trapped beneath the vehicle (pictured) as it crashed through stalls 

More shoppers were thought to be have been trapped beneath the vehicle (pictured) as it crashed through stalls

Images from the scene across social media already show the devastating aftermath 

Images from the scene across social media already show the devastating aftermath

Terrified market-goers quickly tweeted horrifying images from the scene of the incident

Terrified market-goers quickly tweeted horrifying images from the scene of the incident

There were immediately reports of multiple injuries coming in from the scene, as emergency services raced to help those caught up in the incident

There were immediately reports of multiple injuries coming in from the scene, as emergency services raced to help those caught up in the incident.