WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for the truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people and left nearly 50 injured.
The Islamic State group’s Amaq news agency said in a statement Tuesday that “the person who carried out the truck run over attack in Berlin is a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the attack in response to calls for targeting citizens of the Crusader coalition.”
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz released the following statement calling for efforts to redouble America’s resolve to partner with allies to combat radical Islamic terrorism:
“Heidi’s and my prayers are with the victims and families impacted by the recent, vicious rash of attacks in Jordan, Turkey, and Germany. They are a grim reminder that ISIS, al Qaeda, and other radical Islamic terrorist groups are not confined to the so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq. Both by infiltrating the streams of refugees pouring into Europe and through an aggressive campaign of online radicalization, terrorists have been seeded throughout the west, waiting for the signal to strike. These are not lone wolves with mysterious personal motivations for their attacks — they are a coordinated attempts to undermine our civilization, which is by its nature anathema to their jihad. We must redouble our resolve to partner closely with our allies to prevent a broader outbreak of violence that might very well hit us here at home.”
German police are still hunting for the driver of the truck, which slammed into the downtown Christmas market Monday night.
Germany isn’t involved in anti-IS combat operations. But it does have Tornado jets and a refueling plane stationed in Turkey in support of the coalition fighting militants in Syria, as well as a frigate protecting a French aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean.
The U.N. Security Council has condemned “the barbaric and cowardly terrorist attack” and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Council members said “that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.”
The council “expressed their deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the government of Germany.”
The German government said Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken with the leaders of France, Turkey, Italy, Greece, Poland, Sweden and Spain following the deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin.
A government statement said the leaders expressed their sympathy over the attack in the separate phone conversations on Tuesday.
They also offered Merkel their support in investigating the attack and “stressed the necessity of European solidarity in the fight against terrorism.”
German prosecutors said a man arrested after the attack was released due to sufficient evidence to tie him to the rampage.
Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that that the man, a Pakistani citizen who came to Germany last year as an asylum-seeker, denied involvement in the attack.
They noted that witnesses were able to follow the truck’s driver from the scene but lost track of him. The man arrested matched witness descriptions of the truck driver, but investigators haven’t been able to prove that he was in the truck’s cab at the time of the attack.
Under German law, prosecutors have until the end of the calendar day following an arrest to seek a formal arrest warrant keeping a suspect in custody.
A German Muslim group condemned the truck attack.
The Muslim Coordination Council said in a statement Tuesday that terror “does not stop in the face of innocent people and what is sacred to people.” It added that “we are deeply shocked and condemn the cowardly attack in the strongest terms.”
The council is an umbrella organization for several German Muslim groups.
President Barack Obama spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday and offered his condolences for the attack.
The White House said Obama reiterated a U.S. offer of assistance. He also underscored that “no attack could sway our determination and that of our German allies to defeat terrorism in all of its forms.”
Obama also expressed his appreciation for Merkel’s steadfast leadership in shared efforts to “root out the scourge of terrorism and defend our way of life,” according to the White House.
Reaction to the deadly attack spanned most of Western Europe, including Italy.
An Italian lawmaker said after the Berlin incident the list of possible targets in Italy will likely expand.
Sen. Giacomo Stucchi, the head of Parliament’ intelligence commission, told Sky TG24 TV Tuesday that also likely to grow will be the number of persons deemed needing to be closely watched as possible extremists.
Stucchi says “zero risk doesn’t exist.” But he is urging Italians to continue to enjoy their public piazzas and attend their churches in the predominantly Catholic country.
Leaders in Eastern Europe also reacted to the tragedy.
Romania’s prime minister sent condolences to the families of those killed and called for renewed efforts to fight terrorism.
In a message Tuesday, Premier Dacian Ciolos says the Romanian government “condemns such acts of unspeakable violence against innocent people.”
Czech leaders said the country is increasing security measures following the attack and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the police presence will be “massive” during the Christmas holidays, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day at places where crowds gather.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said hundreds more officers will be deployed in the capital and across the country. He says police are ready to renew checks on the border with Germany if German authorities request that.
France’s lawmakers and government members observed a minute of silence to express their solidarity and compassion toward Germans.
Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, in a speech to the lower house of Parliament, vowed to use the strongest determination to fight terrorism “without truce or pause.”
He said French and German authorities have worked closely for months to help improve security in both countries following the deadly attacks by Islamic extremists last year in Paris and this year in Nice.
Germany’s top security official is ordered flags at federal buildings to be flown at half-staff in the wake of Monday’s truck attack.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in a statement Tuesday that the decision was taken as a mark of sympathy following the attack.
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