Investigators have raided the homes of two suspected associates of Anis Amri, the man linked to last month’s deadly Christmas market attack in Berlin. Officials declined to confirm whether the men have been detained.
German police raided a refugee home and a flat in Berlin on Tuesday in connection with its investigation into Anis Amri, the man suspected of killing 12 people in a deadly attack on a Berlin Christmas market last month.
Investigators searched a refugee home, where a 26-year-old Tunisian man they believe knew Amri is living.
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Police suspect the man had known Amri since at least 2015 and was in contact with him shortly before the day of the attack on December 19. The federal prosecutor’s office said there is a “suspicion that the suspect knew of the attack plans and possibly helped Anis Amri.”
Investigators also raided the apartment of Amri’s former flatmate, who they also suspect was in contact with Amri and may have even been a possible accomplice in the attack.
The so-called “Islamic State” (IS) jihadist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, in which Amri plowed a truck through a Christmas market in Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz, killing 12 and injuring around 50 people. After a four-day long manhunt that stretched across Europe, Amri was shot dead by Italian police in Milan on December 23.
The prosecutor’s office said Tuesday’s searches focused on gleaning new information into Amri’s behavior before and after the attack.
It did not confirm whether the two suspects had been taken into custody, but said it plans to provide an update on the investigation on Wednesday.
Berlin police last week arrested a 40-year-old Tunisian man over alleged ties to the attacker, after authorities found his phone number stored in Amri’s mobile phone, which had been found at the scene of the attack. He was released the following day after authorities determined he was not a “possible contact person for Anis Amri.”
Amri identified as a threat in February
German media reported Tuesday that investigators had indentified Amri as a potential threat in February last year, but determined he was unlikely to carry out an attack.
Citing security documents, daily newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported that German authorities had received intelligence showing Amri had been in contact with IS members.
“Süddeutsche Zeitung,” along with German broadcasters NDR and WDR, also reported that the 24-year-old Tunisian migrant had sought to acquire weapons for an attack in Germany.
However, officials decided there was insufficient proof that Amri posed an acute threat that could be presented in court.
In the wake of the attack, German lawmakers have called for tougher security measures, including increased public surveillance and expanded powers for Germany’s internal security agency.
In her New Year’s address on Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said radical Islam was “without a doubt the most difficult test” facing Germany.
dm/cmk (Reuters, dpa, AFP)