KTEP - El Paso, Texas

New Details Emerge About Victims Of Berlin Christmas Market Attack

Dec 22, 2016
Originally published on December 23, 2016 10:07 am
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

German authorities continue to search for a Tunisian man whom they suspect of driving a tractor trailer into a crowded Berlin Christmas market. Twelve people were killed. Another 48 were injured, many of them seriously. Today that Christmas market reopened. Joanna Kakissis reports from Berlin.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS RINGING)

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: The chilly drizzle is falling on Frank Bedweg. The 39-year-old Berlin native is lighting a candle at one of the many memorials next to a historic church that forms one side of the market.

FRANK BUDWEG: Things like this wake you up and bring you back down to Earth again. It could have been us if we would have been here maybe three days earlier.

KAKISSIS: The market reopened today for the first time since the attack. There are Christmas lights, but none of the usual festive music. A few families are warming up in a little food cabin where 19-year-old Leon Amir Melamed is serving mulled wine.

LEON AMIR MELAMED: It's good to see that there are people inside, that there's life again. You know, before there was just the police do not cross lines, and now it's getting back to normal. Not normal-normal, but you try to make the best out of the situation.

KAKISSIS: He saw blood and many terrified people on Monday night. He says police kept him and others in this hut so they would not see the dead bodies outside. Six of those killed were German. One was a 65-year-old woman drinking mulled wine with her son when the truck ran them down. And a 60-year-old Israeli woman, Dalia Elyakim, also died. Her husband, Rami, is now severely injured and on a respirator. His brother Ofer spoke to reporters.

OFER: (Through interpreter) The children are now torn between holding a proper funeral for their mom and standing by their dad until he gets better.

KAKISSIS: Another victim was Lucasz Urban. The Polish truck driver who had been stabbed and shot when his truck was hijacked and driven to the market. Urban was a husband and father who was trying to finish up his delivery in Berlin so he could get home to buy Christmas presents. The man whom German police suspect of hijacking the tractor trailer is Anis Amri, a 24-year-old Tunisian migrant with a criminal past and ties to Islamists.

FRAUKE KOHLER: (Speaking German).

KAKISSIS: Frauke Kohler, a spokeswoman for Germany's federal prosecutor, told reporters Amri's fingerprints were found on the door and inside the cabin of the tractor trailer. Germany has now issued an international warrant for his arrest. Chancellor Angela Merkel said authorities are doing everything they could to catch Amri.

ANGELA MERKEL: (Through interpreter) We've known for a long time that we would be the targets of Islamic terrorism. But still, when something like this attack happens, of course, it's something very different.

KAKISSIS: Amri's request for asylum had been rejected by German authorities, but his deportation was delayed. Manuela, a retired secretary who declines to give her last name out of fears for her safety, says she's furious that someone like Amri with a known criminal past would be allowed to stay here.

MANUELA: But when I heard that he's been known - what he's been doing has been known for such a long time - it's just ridiculous.

KAKISSIS: She leaves a white rose at another makeshift memorial and walks away. For NPR News, I'm Joanna Kakissis in Berlin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.