Berlin Truck Attacker Still at Large as Initial Suspect Released

Refugees in Germany Fear Backlash After 23-Year-Old Initially Blamed

Officials in Germany continue to say they believe that yesterday‘s incident of a truck smashing into a Christmas market in Berlin was a deliberate attack, but they appear no closer to finding the culprit, with the first person they detained turning out to have been an innocent bystander.

The Polish-owned truck smashed into the market, killing 12 people and wounding 48 others. The man who was driving the truck was found dead inside, with the trucking company saying they believe the vehicle was hijacked and the driver killed before the crash. Before long, German police announced they had arrested a suspect in the case.

That man, referred to in the press as Naved B., was a Pakistani refugee who was at the marketplace at the time of the attack, and arrested 2 km away from the market. Police arrested him based on a vague description of the man who got out of the truck by a witness.

Naved B. confirmed he was at the market and fled when the attack happened, believing correctly that as a refugee he was liable to get blamed for it. Police say the blood inside the truck cab, belonging to the presumptive attacker, did not match Naved’s, and he was ultimately released.

Even though it isn’t true, Pakistani and Afghan refugees in Germany are expressing concern that the impression of their involvement will but them at risk, and with far-right groups already out to get refugees in general in most of Europe, this will add to the pressure they are under.

Reflecting this, the opposition AfD Party blamed the attack on German Chancellor Angela Merkel letting refugees into the country in the first place, saying that it “wouldn’t be the last” time refugees attacked something, despite any proof that a refugee actually did it.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.