German Authorities Hunt for Tunisian Asylum-seeker in Connection to Berlin Christmas Market Attack

(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

German authorities scoured the country Wednesday for a Tunisian asylum seeker who is being sought in the truck rampage through a Christmas festival here that killed 12 people and injured 48.

Investigators don’t know if there is more than one perpetrator at large. The new suspect emerged after police found documents in the truck belonging to a 24-year-old Tunisian national identified only as Anis A, the German magazine Spiegel reported on its website. Some media reported that he is 21 years old.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere confirmed that authorities are seeking a new suspect, but gave no further details.

German lawmaker Stephan Mayer said after being briefed by security officials Wednesday that the new suspect, whose wallet was found in the truck, is thought to be Tunisian with links to Islamic extremists. He said the man was apparently supposed to be deported from Germany earlier in the year.

Spiegel and Allgemeine Zeitung reported that Anis A was identified from a document relating to asylum that was found in the vehicle’s cabin. The document said he was born in the southern Tunisian city of Tataouine in 1992, Spiegel said. It reported that he is also known by two aliases.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that he applied for asylum in April and received a temporary residence permit.

Photographs purporting to be of Anis A. were circulating on social media.

Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that he lived in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where a police operation was said to be underway Wednesday, and in Berlin. Bild reported that he registered in the town of Kleve in North Rhine-Westphalia.

A previous suspect, a 23-year-old Pakistani asylum seeker, was released Tuesday evening because prosecutors did not find enough evidence linking him to the incident. He denied any involvement in the assault.

A further suspect was held overnight and released Wednesday due to insufficient evidence, the RBB broadcaster reported, according to German news agency DPA.

Germany is treating the attack as terrorism, which the Islamic State said was carried out by a “soldier.” No evidence has emerged establishing a connection to the militant group, which has staged and inspired assaults across Europe and the United States.

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SOURCE: Kim Hjelmgaard
USA TODAY