Fingerprints of Tunisian Suspect in Berlin Attack Found on Truck Door

BERLIN (Reuters) -
Mustapha Amri (R), father of suspect Anis Amri who is sought in relation with the truck attack in Berlin, speaks with his son Walid near their home in Oueslatia, Tunisia, Thursday. (Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi)

Investigators found fingerprints of a Tunisian suspect in the Berlin market attack, 24-year-old Anis Amri, on the door of the truck that plowed through the crowds, killing 12, German media said on Thursday, as a nationwide manhunt for the migrant was underway.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, in which a truck smashed through wooden huts at the market on Monday evening. It was the deadliest attack on German soil since 1980.

The media did not name their source for the report about Amri’s fingerprints and police declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

The Berlin attack has raised concerns across Europe, with markets in France, target of a series of terror attacks over the last year, tightening security with concrete barriers. Troops were also being posted at religious centers.

The Berlin market reopened on Thursday ringed by concrete bollards.

Workers place concrete barriers outside the market at Breitscheid Square in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, after the Monday attack. (Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke)

Police in the western German city of Dortmund arrested four people who had been in contact with Amri, media reports said, but a spokesman for the chief federal prosecutor denied that and said he would give no further details on the operation to avoid jeopardizing it.

Bild newspaper cited an antiterrorism investigator as saying that it was clear in spring that the Tunisian suspect was looking for accomplices for an attack and was interested in weapons. The report said preliminary proceedings had been opened against Amri in March based on information he was planning a robbery to get money to buy automatic weapons and “possibly carry out an attack with them and other accomplices.”

In mid-2016 he spoke to two IS terrorists and Tunisian authorities listened in on their conversation before informing German authorities. Amri also offered himself as a suicide attacker on known Islamist online forums, Bild said.

Police started looking for the Tunisian after finding an identity document under the driver’s seat of the truck used in the attack. Authorities have stressed that Amri is just a suspect and not necessarily the driver of the truck.

Broadcaster rbb said the perpetrator lost both his wallet and cellphone while running away from the attack site.

On Wednesday Ralf Jaeger, interior minister of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), said the Tunisian appeared to have arrived in Germany in July 2015 and his asylum application had been rejected in June 2016.

Klaus Bouillon, the head of the group of interior ministers from Germany’s federal states, said Islamists often left identity documents at attack sites – as was the case in the Paris terror attacks – to steer public opinion against refugees.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has faced calls to tighten asylum procedures since the attack. Armin Schuster, a member of her Christian Democrats (CDU), told broadcaster NDR: “We need to send the signal: Only set off for Germany if you have a reason for asylum.”