German authorities have named Tunisian man Anis Amri as their prime suspect after a truck drove through a Christmas market on Monday, killing 12 people, Reuters has reported.
Another suspect, a Pakistani asylum seeker who was known to the German police, was released Tuesday because of a lack of evidence.
In a statement, the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office confirmed its search for Amri, 24. Authorities have offered a €100,000 ($144,000) reward for information leading to his arrest.
“Anis AMRI is 178cm tall and weighs about 75kg, has black hair and brown eyes,” the office said in the statement, according to Reuters. “Beware: He could be violent and armed!”
Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, said earlier on Wednesday that the German police were collaborating with authorities in Europe’s Schengen area, where people can move from country to country without a passport, to find Amri. He did acknowledge, however, that Amri may not be the driver behind the attack.
The search turned to the Tunisian after an identification document was found under the driver’s seat in the 40-tonne truck behind Monday night’s carnage.
At a press conference in Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia’s interior minister Ralf Jaeger said that Amri, who arrived in Germany in July 2015, was known to German security agencies. He had apparently been imprisoned in Italy for four years for setting a school on fire prior to arriving in Germany, Reuters reported.
German police, who considered Amri dangerous and suspected he was part of a large Islamic extremist network, first launched an investigation against him on March 14 following a tip from federal security agencies that he may have been planning a terror attack.
Amri had apparently been under covert surveillance as far back as June, German authorities told the Associated Press, when his asylum application was denied and attempts to deport him to Tunisia failed.
Tunisia initially denied Amri was a citizen and did not issue his passport to German authorities until Wednesday — two days after the attack.
ISIS on Tuesday afternoon claimed credit for Monday’s destruction, supporting what German and US officials had presumed to be an act of terrorism. The group’s Amaq news agency called the truck driver an ISIS soldier who “executed the operation in response to calls to target nationals of the coalition countries.”
The truck ran into the market outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the Charlottenburg neighbourhood of Berlin at about 8pm local time on Monday. It ploughed through stalls and tables and travelled 50 to 80 metres, according to the Berliner Morgenpost.
A Polish man, named as Lukasz Urban, was found dead in the passenger side of the truck. De Maizière, the German interior minister, confirmed that the man was shot with a shotgun but said the weapon had not been recovered. The man was identified by a cousin who owned the truck company where the man had been a driver.
Amid fears that the attack might have been carried out by migrants, Berliners and refugees gathered to sing “We Are the World” in front of the Kaiser Wilhelm church on Wednesday, according to Reuters. The gathering was a mark of respect for those who died in the attack.
Natasha Bertrand contributed reporting.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.