Berlin Christmas Market Attack: Islamic State Claims Responsibility | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Berlin Christmas Market Attack: Islamic State Claims Responsibility

The claim of responsibility came not long after German prosecutors said they had released a man picked up near the scene of the attack

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other senior officials on Tuesday visited the scene of a deadly attack on a Berlin Christmas market and laid flowers at a makeshift shrine to the victims. Merkel told reporters on Tuesday that it would be "particularly sickening" if it turns out the attacker was an asylum-seeker who sought refuge in Germany. Twelve people were killed and scores of others injured. (Published Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016)

    The Islamic State group claimed responsibility Tuesday for a truck attack on a crowded Berlin Christmas market that German authorities said came right out of the extremist group's playbook, inflicting mass casualties on a soft target fraught with symbolic meaning. 

    The Monday night attack on the popular market by the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the heart of former West Berlin left 12 dead and 48 injured — the first mass casualty attack by Islamic extremists carried out on German soil. German security forces were still hunting for the perpetrator after releasing a man from custody for lack of evidence. 

    The claim of responsibility carried on the Islamic State group's Amaq news agency described the man seen fleeing from the truck as "a soldier of the Islamic State" who "carried out the attack in response to calls for targeting citizens of the Crusader coalition." 

    Germany is not involved in anti-IS combat operations, but has 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, among other assets. 

    The claim of responsibility came not long after German prosecutors said they had released a man picked up near the scene of the attack, initially suspected of driving the truck. 

    The man, a Pakistani citizen who came to Germany last year, was taken into custody based on a description from witnesses of a suspect who jumped out of the truck and fled after the attack. 

    New Artificial Wombs Stimulates Mom for Preemies

    [NATL] New Artificial Wombs Stimulates Mom for Preemies

    A new invention from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia may soon care for extremely premature babies. Artificial wombs stimulate an environment similar to a mother's womb - a method that researchers say is gentler than ventilators and incubators. 

    (Published Wednesday, April 26, 2017)

    Even before his release, officials had expressed doubt the man was behind the attack. 

    "We may still have a dangerous criminal out there," warned Berlin police chief Klaus Kandt, whose office urged people to be "particularly vigilant" and report "suspicious movement" using a special hotline. 

    Though Germany had not seen any successful mass-casualty Islamic extremist attacks until Monday, attempts and recent attacks in neighboring France and Belgium had made many feel it was inevitable. 

    "We've all been prepared that something like this could happen, so we were not surprised," said economics student Maximilian Much. 

    Teens Overcoming Opioids Seek Treatment in Recovery Schools

    [NATL] Teens Overcoming Opioid Dependence Seek Treatment in 'Recovery Schools'

    A new method for battling teenage opioid abuse comes not in the form of a new drug or counseling method, but in special "recovery schools" that emphasize communal support and positive peer pressure. 

    (Published Tuesday, April 25, 2017)

    The 24-year-old Berliner said the attack hit home because he'd often visited the Christmas market with his girlfriend, but that he wouldn't let himself be led by emotion. 

    "I'm not going to change my life style now," he said. "The chances that I get killed in a car or bike accident are bigger." 

    Germany's top prosecutor, Peter Frank, told reporters the attack on the popular market was reminiscent of July's deadly truck rampage in Nice and appeared to follow instructions published by the Islamic State group. 

    "There is also the prominent and symbolic target of a Christmas market, and the modus operandi that mirrors at least past calls by jihadi terror organizations," Frank said.

    New Orleans to Remove Confederate-Era Monuments

    [NATL] New Orleans to Remove Confederate-Era Monuments

    The city of New Orleans will remove four statues of Confederate-era events and figures in an effort to divorce itself from symbols that some see as problematic. The first statue, the Liberty Place Monument, was taken down early Monday morning. 

    (Published Monday, April 24, 2017)

    In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the attack "bears the hallmarks of previous terror attacks," but said U.S. officials didn't have enough information to back up the IS claim of responsibility. "There is no direct evidence of a tie or a link to a terrorist organization," he said. 

    The man arrested near the scene denied any involvement in the attack. Under German law, prosecutors have until the end of a calendar day following an arrest to seek a formal arrest warrant keeping a suspect in custody. 

    Prosecutors said they decided to release him after turning up no forensic evidence proving he was in the truck's cab during the rampage, and no witnesses who were able to follow him from the scene to where he was picked up. 

    Among the injured was Inaki Ellakuria, who underwent surgery Tuesday for a broken tibia and fibula on his left leg. He said he knew immediately it was no accident. 

    Driver Flees Traffic Stop, Dragging Police Officer

    [NATL-DFW] Driver Flees Traffic Stop, Dragging Police Officer

    Body camera footage shows a Florida police officer being dragged by a driver attempting to flee a traffic stop.

    Police said Frank Wetzel, 61, was pulled over after blowing through a stop sign. Police said he started fidgeting with something next to him, making the officer suspicious. He was allegedly later found with a machete and handgun.

    (Published Monday, April 24, 2017)

    "It came fast, too fast to be driving off the road accidentally," the 21-year-old student from Spain tweeted only minutes after the attack. "It has swept me and ran over both of my legs." 

    Juan Jose Ellakuria told the Associated Press his son also suffered broken bones in his right ankle and instep, as well as damage to his hip. 

    "He's come out of surgery and he's making good progress," Ellakuria said. 

    Frank, the German prosecutor, said there were still a lot of unanswered questions. 

    "We don't know for sure whether it was one or several perpetrators," he said. "We don't know for sure whether he, or they, had support. These investigations aren't concluded yet." 

    Witnesses saw only one man flee from the truck after it hurtled through the market for 60 to 80 meters (200 to 260 feet) before coming to a stop near the 19th-century church, which was badly damaged in World War II bombing but left standing as a memorial to the destruction of the war. 

    The head of the Federal Criminal Police Office said authorities had yet to find a pistol that is believed to have been used to kill the Polish truck driver who was supposed to be delivering the steel beams the truck was carrying.

    The Polish owner of the truck, Ariel Zurawski, said he last spoke with the driver, his cousin, around noon on Monday and he told him he was in Berlin and scheduled to unload Tuesday morning. 

    Flight Attendant's Behavior Questioned Following Altercation

    [NATL-BAY] Flight Attendant's Behavior Questioned Following Altercation

    One day after an American Airlines flight attendant became entangled in an altercation with passengers, his employer is investigating whether or not he was out of line. Thom Jensen reports.

    (Published Sunday, April 23, 2017)

    "They must have done something to my driver," he told TVN24. 

    Flags flew at half-staff on government buildings across the country Tuesday, and in Berlin the national and city flags were projected onto the Brandenburg Gate in tribute to the victims. 

    Authorities said that in addition to the Polish truck driver, six of the people killed were German but the others have not yet been identified. 

    Germans have been increasingly wary since two attacks by asylum-seekers last summer were claimed by the Islamic State group. Five people were wounded in an ax rampage on a train near Wuerzburg and 15 were wounded in a bombing outside a bar in Ansbach, both in the southern state of Bavaria. Both attackers were killed. 

    Drive-Thru Pot Dispensary Opens in Colorado

    [NATL] Drive-Thru Pot Dispensary Opens in Colorado

    When you think of a drive-thru, fast food probably comes to mind. But what about marijuana? Tumbleweed Express Drive-Thru in Parachute, Colorado, is the first of its kind. After nearly a year of preparation, the drive-thru pot shop opened for business on 4/20. 

    "Their timing couldn't have been better in my opinion, I mean everybody wants to celebrate," said Kyle Steele, a customer at the drive-thru.

    (Published Friday, April 21, 2017)

    Those attacks and two others unrelated to Islamic extremism in the same weeklong period, contributed to tensions in Germany over the arrival last year of 890,000 migrants. 

    Far-right groups and a nationalist party seized on Monday night's attack, blaming Chancellor Angela Merkel for what happened. 

    "Under the cloak of helping people Merkel has completely surrendered our domestic security," wrote Frauke Petry, the co-chairwoman of the Alternative for Germany party. 

    The attack also raised concerns of a possible backlash. 

    Protester, Official React to Arkansas Execution

    [NATL] Protester, Official React to Arkansas Execution

    Just before midnight Thursday, Arkansas announced it had executed death row inmate Ledell Lee. He is the first of four inmates scheduled to die before the end of the month when a crucial lethal injection drug is set to expire. A protester and a spokesperson for the governor reacted to the controversial execution.

    (Published Friday, April 21, 2017)

    "No question, the atmosphere in this country will change and become more tense," said Tarik Elsayed, the 22-year-old German-born son of Egyptian parents. 

    "Of course, as an Arab I will get more hostile looks, it will get only worse now." 

    But Tarek Elmasoudi, an Egyptian asylum-seeker, said he wasn't afraid of repercussions. "The Germans are very nice and I want to stay here." 

    Already under pressure for the huge influx of migrants, Merkel addressed head-on the possibility that an asylum-seeker was responsible for the carnage. 

    Bill O'Reilly Ousted At Fox News Channel

    [NATL] Bill O'Reilly Ousted At Fox News Channel

    Fox News host Bill O'Reilly was officially pushed out at the network. This comes after O'Reilly had paid out more than $13 million to five different women over allegations of sexual harassment. In a statement, 21st Century Fox said, "After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel." O'Reilly has denied any wrongdoing.

    (Published Wednesday, April 19, 2017)

    "I know that it would be particularly hard for us all to bear if it were confirmed that a person committed this act who asked for protection and asylum in Germany," she said in a nationally televised statement. 

    "This would be particularly sickening for the many, many Germans who work to help refugees every day and for the many people who really need our help and are making an effort to integrate in our country." 

    "Twelve people who were still among us yesterday, who were looking forward to Christmas, who had plans for the holidays, aren't among us anymore," she said. "A gruesome and ultimately incomprehensible act has robbed them of their lives."