World

Berlin market attacker had 14 different names and was marked as a threat

BERLIN/DUESSELDORF: The Tunisian man who killed 12 people last month by ploughing a truck into a Berlin Christmas market had lived under at least 14 different names in Germany, a regional police chief said on Thursday.

Anis Amri, shot dead by Italian police in Milan on Dec 23, had been marked as a potential threat by authorities in the western federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in February last year, some six months after he arrived in Germany and applied for asylum.

"He acted in a conspiratorial manner and used various personalities," head of the NRW Criminal Police Unit, Dieter Schuermann, told the regional parliament.

The 24-year-old divided his time between NRW and Berlin, where intelligence officials also classified him as a potential threat but agreed that he posed no concrete threat, Schuermann said.

An investigation into the attack is focusing on whether Amri had any accomplices.

Police arrested another Tunisian man in Berlin this week. Prosecutors say he had dinner with Amri at an Arab restaurant in the capital a day before the Dec 19 attack.

A prosecution spokesman said on Wednesday that Amri and the arrested suspect, identified as 26-year-old Bilel A., had "very intensive discussions" at the restaurant.

The co-owner of the restaurant in north Berlin where the two met told Reuters he had not been aware that Amri had dined at the premises until police came asking if they could have CCTV footage.

"No one who was here that night remember seeing him," said the co-owner, declining to give his name.

"We're so busy we hardly have time to breathe. The police said he was here between 8pm and 9pm."

At a shelter for migrants at the western end of Berlin where Bilel A. was arrested, refugees who said they knew Amri's suspected accomplice said he claimed to be Libyan.

"The strangest thing about him was that he used to pray every day but most evenings he would go out to nightclubs with his friends," said a 21-year-old Syrian refugee, who shared a room at the shelter with Bilel six months ago. - REUTERS

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