Terror arrives in Germany as truck attack in heart of Berlin kills 12

Media outlets say the truck driver was a refugee of Pakistani origin.

berlin terror attack as lorry plows into crowd killing 12
Police and emergency workers stand next to a crashed truck at the site of an accident at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

A truck crashed through a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring nearly 50 on Monday evening. The German government said the horrific incident was an 'attack' but the White House termed it a terrorrist attack.

The nationality of the truck driver who crushed Christmas shoppers at the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church in the heart of West Berlin, was not officially revealed but several media outlets said he was a refugee of Pakistani origin. The driver was arrestd while a passenger in the truck died in the crash.

The attack was similar to the Nice terror attack in France in July, eye witnesses said. "We heard a loud bang ... We started to see the top of an articulated truck, a lorry ... just crashing through the stalls, through people," Emma Rushton, a tourist, told CNN.

Early investigation revealed the the truck might have ben stolen from a construction site in Poland.
The Nice attack that killed 86 people was carried out by a Tunisian-born man who drove a 19-tonne truck through Bastile Day revellers along the beach front.

"I'm deeply shaken about the horrible news of what occurred at the memorial church in Berlin," Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. 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.

With terror knocking at one of Berlin's famed landmarks -- - the Gedaechtniskirche or memorial church built in 1895 -- the immigration policy will come up for tight srcutiny in days ahead.

The United States condemned the attack saying it was an apparent "terrorist attack". "We have been in touch with German officials, and we stand ready to provide assistance as they recover from and investigate this horrific incident," National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.