Update: Islamic state has claimed it carried out the truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin yesterday.
Berlin: Several countries in Europe have sounded an alert after a Pakistan-origin hardliner hijacked a truck and ran over several people in Berlin, Germany.
The truck driver ploughed his vehicle into a Christmas market, killing 12 persons and injuring dozens of others, German media reported.
German authorities said that the suspect was arrested two kilometers away from the spot where he committed mayhem and is now being interrogated.
Security sources were quoted by media as also saying that the man behind the wheel was an asylum seeker from Pakistan who arrived in Germany in February. The truck, police said was registered in Poland.
Traditional Christmas markets are popular in cities and towns throughout Germany and have frequently been mentioned by security services as potentially vulnerable to attacks.
The square is at the end of the Kurfuerstendamm Boulevard, which was packed with holiday shoppers. Police said the truck made it as far as 80 yards into the Christmas market before it came to a halt.
Europe has been on high alert for most of 2016, with terror attacks striking Paris and Brussels, while Germany has been hit by several assaults claimed by the Islamic State group and carried out by asylum-seekers mostly from Pakistan.
Monday’s incident in Berlin has once again brought into focus the alarming prospect of men of Pakistani origin repeatedly perpetrating acts of terror worldwide, and the fear among nations in Europe that they are extremely vulnerable to being exposed to 2008 Mumbai-style terror attacks by Pakistan-based terrorist outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), whose tentacles have been found to have spread across the continent by security agencies.
2015’s deadly terror attacks at multiple locations in Paris, France, that claimed 130 lives, and the terrorist attack on the departure lounge of Brussels Airport in Zaventem that claimed the lives of 31 people and injured another 300 by two suicide bombers are cases in point that justify this concern.
In Europe, security agencies in countries like France, Germany Austria and Italy are increasingly unearthing the presence of terrorists with links to Pakistan. Many European nations are realizing the potential threat to their national security from the rising number of Pakistanis, recruited by terrorist groups based in Pakistan and then illegally sent to Europe, say experts.
Groups like LeT and its front organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which carry out their activities unhindered in Pakistan, instruct Muslim youth in extremist ideology to carry out jihad against the West, say experts, adding that these youth are then illegally pushed into different countries to take forward the objectives of the group to radicalise European Muslims and use them for terror attacks.
Apart from yesterday’s killing in Berlin, till now, there have been at least 12 terrorist attacks in Europe in 2016.
Security experts feel that there is an urgent need for the European Union members to respond to this threat jointly by de-radicalisation programmes, enhancing security cooperation and intelligence sharing.
Further, EU members need to quickly put together a common policy on dealing with illegal immigration from countries like Pakistan, where with the tacit support of the government, extremist ideology is being promoted and freely disseminated by radical Islamic and terror groups.