Austria beefs up security in public places after Berlin attack
Austria’s Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka has instructed state police to increase security in busy public places, after a truck ploughed through a Christmas market in Berlin on Monday evening, killing 12 people.
In a press release he said that interior ministry staff will meet today to analyse the current security situation in Austria. Sobotka said that he is in contact with Germany’s interior ministry and has spoken to the country’s Director for Public Security, Konrad Kogler. He also expressed his deep condolences and sympathy to the victims and survivors of the Berlin attack.
Dozens of people were injured when the truck smashed through wooden stalls at a popular market near the city’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. German police said on Tuesday they were treating it as a “probable terrorist attack”.
Sobotka confirmed that several asylum seekers were arrested in Fuschl in the Austrian state of Salzburg on Monday morning, but that the suspects had no connection to the attack in Berlin.
He added that police believe the main suspect arrested in Fuschl, a 25-year-old Moroccan man, had been planning a “serious offence”, although there was no explicit mention of terrorism. He said that investigations are continuing.
The minister warned people to be more vigilant in busy public places but said that he would not go as far as avoiding Christmas markets in Austria. He advised people to remain calm and to continue their "normal customs and habits" in the run-up to Christmas.
He added that Austria is well prepared for any terrorist attack but that it was impossible to provide “100 percent security”.
Police in Berlin detained a suspect believed to have deliberately crashed the truck into the packed Christmas market. German media identified him as a 23-year-old Pakistani who entered the country in either late 2015 or early 2016. However, on Tuesday afternoon Berlin police chief Klaus Kandt said he could not confirm the suspect in custody was the driver of the lorry - and that he denied any involvement in the attack.
Austria's Chancellor Christian Kern (SPÖ) tweeted that his thoughts were with the victims and their relatives: "After careful analysis, we need prudent, consistent answers."
Entsetzlich! Meine Gedanken sind bei den Opfern u ihren Angehörigen. Nach genauer Analyse brauchen wir besonnene, konsequente Antworten https://t.co/SsaGZAqtGu— Christian Kern (@KernChri) December 19, 2016