Islamic State claims its soldier carried out Berlin terror attack

"We can't rule out that the perpetrator is on the run," German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

Isis claims berlin truck attack
Police stand in front of the truck which ploughed last night into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Islamist terror group Isis has owned up the Berlin truck attack that killed 12 people on Monday even as German authorities intensified search for the driver of the truck that crushed crowds at a popular Christmas market.

The truck rampage, which was reminiscent of the Nice terror attack in July that killed 86 people, was an act of terror in accordance with the jihadist outfit's agenda, the Amaq news agency said.

"A soldier of the Islamic State carried out the Berlin operation in response to appeals to target citizens of coalition countries," the agency linked to Isis said. It did not specify who carried out the attack even as German officials released a Pakistani asylum seeker who was detained initially on suspicion.

The prosecutor's office said forensic tests did not provide evidence of the Pakistani asylum seeker's presence in the truck at the time of the incident.

The release of the Pakistani refugee gave rise to fears that the real perpetrator of the crime is still at large. Berlin police chief Klaus Kandt said on Tuesday a dangerous criminal maybe out in the area. "We can't rule out that the perpetrator is on the run," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told broadcaster ZDF, AFP reported.

The Isis claim was not substantiated as they gave no evidence to back up the claim. The German Federal investigators did not accept the theory either but said probe will go on. "We should let the security services do their job. No-one will rest until the perpetrator or perpetrators have been caught," De Maiziere added.

Nearly 50 people were injured as the truck driver crashed through the laden vehicle through Christmas shoppers at the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church in the heart of West Berlin.

With terror knocking at one of Berlin's famed landmarks -- - the Gedaechtniskirche or memorial church built in 1895 -- German Chancellor Angel Merkel has already come under fire for the liberal immigration policies she pursued. Germany was divided sharply over Chancellor Angela Merkel's lenient policies that allowed the entry of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa in 2015.

In the immediate aftermath of the strike Germany did not label it as a terror attack even as the US said the incident was a terror strike. However, later in the day, Merkel, who attended a memorial service in the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, said the attack was a likely terror strike.