Posted: December 20 2016
ISIL has claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack on a Berlin Christmas market.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS) announced the claim via its Amaq website late on Tuesday.
The announcement came at the end of a challenging day for German officials, who are still hunting for the person, or people, behind the attack.
“A soldier of the Islamic State carried out the Berlin operation in response to appeals to target citizens of coalition countries,” said the ISIL statement, which was posted online.
The statement did not identify the attacker.
The lorry attack on the Christmas market in the west of the city left at least 12 dead and nearly 50 injured, 24 of whom have been released from hospital, according to German police.
The claim of responsibility came not long after German prosecutors said they had released a man arrested on Monday night near the scene of the attack, initially suspected of driving the lorry. The man, a Pakistani refugee who came to Germany last year, had been arrested based on a description of a suspect who jumped out of the lorry and fled.
Al Jazeera’s Sonia Gallego, reporting from Berlin, said the atmosphere in the German capital was “mournful”.
“The security officials are left with an extremely worrying situation,” our correspondent said. “You have an armed and dangerous person still on the loose, still at large, an extreme concern for police.”
She added that there were currently more tourists in the capital because of the Christmas holidays.
Writing on Twitter, German police urged Berliners to be “particularly alert”.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said investigators were following several leads.German officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have called the incident a “terrorist” attack.
“We just heard about the supposed claim of responsibility by this so-called Islamic State that is in fact a gang of terrorists,” de Maiziere told ARD broadcaster. “There are several leads that investigators are following now.”
He added that “nobody will rest until the perpetrator or the perpetrators are caught”.