AN ASYLUM seeker has been detained after 12 people were killed when a large lorry was driven into a busy Berlin Christmas market
Police believe the 23-year-old male driver arrived in Germany in February as a refugee from either Afghanistan or Pakistan.
He had been living in a refugee camp in Berlin near the city’s airport.
A witness followed him at a distance for more than a mile as he called police who quickly arrested him near the Victory Column monument.
The police spokesman said the driver may have wanted to “find shelter in the darkness of the park”.
Security services are treating the horror incident, which killed 12 and injured 48, at Breitscheidplatz market in the German capital on Monday evening at 8.14pm (7.14pm GMT) as a “terror attack”.
Berlin police said on Twitter: “Our investigators assume that the truck was deliberately steered into the crowd at the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz.
“All police measures related to the suspected terrorist attack are progressing at full steam and with the necessary diligence.”
The detained man is not known to have any previous terror links but has a history of petty crime, police added.
The truck company’s owner said they believe the truck was hijacked after losing GPS tracking signal earlier in the day.
He added the original driver was his Polish cousin who he could “vouch for” and who is believed to have been the passenger found dead in the truck after the incident.
The Polish driver’s wife told a Polish broadcaster she had last spoken to her husband at midday yesterday and had not heard from him since.
After managing to look at the GPS data history from the lorry the company said it looks like the driver was learning to drive the truck for the first time at 3.44pm, with the engine stopping and starting intermittently before setting off at 7.34pm – an hour before crashing into the market stalls.
Local broadcaster rbb cited security sources as saying the arrested driver is Pakistani and came to Germany via Passau, a city on the Austrian border on New Year’s Eve in 2015.
The truck ploughed into stalls and Christmas trees as throngs of people from around the world enjoyed an evening out at the annual global attraction.
This is a breaking story.
Please refresh or return to the page for updates… Express.co. uk