German police on Wednesday stepped up their hunt for the driver of a truck that rampaged through a Berlin Christmas market, in a deadly assault claimed by the ISIL Takfiri group.
The sole suspect — a 23-year-old Pakistani asylum seeker — was released late Tuesday for lack of evidence, prompting worries of a killer on the loose and further rattling nerves in a shocked country.
“We can’t rule out that the perpetrator is on the run,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told German broadcaster ZDF.
Twelve people were killed when the Polish-registered articulated truck ploughed into the crowded market on Monday, smashing wooden stalls and crushing victims.
Twenty-four injured remained in hospital, 14 of whom were in critical condition, according to de Maiziere.
The scenes instantly revived nightmarish memories of the July 14 truck assault in the French Riviera city of Nice, where 86 people were killed by a Tunisian Takfiri.
The ISIL-linked Amaq news agency said “a soldier of the (so-called) 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.
De Maiziere said several lines of inquiry were being pursued, but “we should let the security services do their job.”
“No-one will rest until the perpetrator or perpetrators have been caught,” he told ARD public television.
The attack comes at a sensitive time for Chancellor Angela Merkel who is running for a fourth term in 2017 but has faced strong criticism over her decision last year to open the country’s borders to refugees.