German police launched a manhunt on Wednesday for a Tunisian suspected of driving the truck that ploughed through a Berlin Christmas market in a deadly assault claimed by ISIL.
Asylum office papers believed to belong to the man were found in the cab of the 40-tonne lorry used in the attack that killed 12 people, local media said.
The man is in his early 20s, known by three different names, and was born in the southern city of Tataouine, they said.
He applied for asylum in Germany in April and received a temporary residence permit, according to the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere confirmed that authorities have identified a new suspect but said, “he is a suspect but not necessarily the assailant”.
A previous suspect – a 23-year-old Pakistani asylum seeker – was released on Tuesday for lack of evidence, prompting fears of a killer on the loose and further rattling nerves in a shocked country.
Twelve people died when the Polish-registered articulated truck, laden with steel beams, slammed into the crowded holiday market late Monday, crushing victims.
The scenes revived memories of the July 14 truck assault in the French Riviera city of Nice, where 86 people were killed by a Tunisian extremist.
Twenty-four people remained in hospital, 14 of whom were seriously injured, said Mr de Maiziere.
The ISIL-linked Amaq news agency said “a soldier of the Islamic State” carried out the Berlin carnage “in response to appeals to target citizens of coalition countries”.
There was no evidence to back the claim, nor was the perpetrator identified.
Germany is part of a US-led coalition fighting ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
Tunisia is one of the biggest suppliers of extremist fighters, with some 5,500 of its nationals believed to be involved in combat in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
The attack comes as Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is running for a fourth term in 2017, faces strong criticism over her decision to open the country’s borders to refugees.
Federal prosecutors announced on Tuesday they had to release the only suspect in custody after finding no forensic evidence to link him to Germany’s deadliest attack in recent years.
The Pakistani man was detained on Monday after reportedly being seen jumping out of the truck and fleeing the scene.
But officials had expressed growing doubts over whether they had the right suspect, and he denied the charges under repeated questioning.
Following the suspect’s release, Berlin’s police chief Klaus Kandt said one or more perpetrators were believed to be on the run and possibly armed.
Police said they were chasing up more than 500 tips from the public and examining DNA traces found in the cab of the truck.
Police were reportedly focusing their search for the Tunisian suspect in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Source: /The National