Berlin Police storm disused airport as they pursue attackers
BERLIN Police have reportedly stormed disused Tempelhof Airport which has been turned into a refugee camp in the wake of the Christmas market attack that killed 12 and injured 48 people.
An elite unit of armed police raided the airport hangar at 4am on Tuesday, according to media reports.
The site which was built by the Nazis in the 1930s was closed years ago and has been converted to temporary accommodation for nearly 2000 refugees. Germany has accepted an estimated one million refugees since the 2015 crisis after Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Syrian refugees into the country.
Berlin police have claimed the truck attack at Breitscheidplatz was deliberate and said they are working at "full steam" to find those behind it. German television station N24 said the airport site provides the "first hot lead" after the attack.
German media reports claim a 23-year-old Pakistani man known only as "Navad B" who came to the country as a refugee is the suspect. It's thought he arrived in Germany between December 31 2015 and February 2016 after travelling through the Balkans and was known to police for a series of minor offences.
He was reportedly arrested 2.5 kilometres away from the market. Eyewitnesses report seeing a man flee the cab of the truck, pulling off a mask as he ran.
It's believed no arrests were made at the raid on the former airport on Tuesday however a number were grilled by police.
Berlin Police said a man is being interrogated after he was chased by a witness. The truck will be removed for forensic testing.
"Our investigators assume that the truck was deliberately steered into the crowd at the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz," police said on Twitter.
"All police measures related to the suspected terrorist attack at Breitscheidplatz are progressing at full steam and with the necessary diligence."
Onlookers were terrified when the large truck drove straight through stalls at the festive markets that were filled with locals and tourists.
The truck used in the carnage had Polish licence plates and the owner of the company claimed it was hijacked.
"We haven't heard from him since this afternoon. We don't know what happened to him," Ariel Zurawski said about the driver.
"He's my cousin, I've known him since I was a kid. I can vouch for him."
Australian woman Trisha O'Neill said she was at the market with friends when she saw "blood and bodies everywhere".
"I just saw this huge black truck speeding through the markets crushing so many people and then all the lights went out and everything was destroyed," she told the ABC.
"I could hear screaming and then we all froze." Ms O'Neill, who moved to Germany in September, burst into tears when she saw how many people, including children, were laying on the ground.
"I never thought I would see something like this in my life," she said.