World

German police arrest 2 brothers over mall attack plot

BERLIN: Police have arrested two brothers on suspicion of planning to attack one of Germany's biggest shopping centres, authorities said yesterday, four days after 12 people were killed at a Christmas market.

They said they had arrested two men, aged 28 and 31, originally from Kosovo, and were trying to establish how advanced the plot was and whether other people were involved.

Police were deployed to the shopping complex and a nearby Christmas market in the western city of Oberhausen late Thursday. The mall that was targeted, CentrO, is one of the largest in Germany with around 250 shops that are usually packed leading up to Christmas.

The arrests come as the hunt continues for the Tunisian suspect accused of ploughing a truck through crowds packing one of Berlin's most popular Christmas markets on Monday.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Police said they are certain it was Anis Amri, 24, who steered the 40-tonne lorry after finding his identity papers and fingerprints inside the vehicle, next to the corpse of its registered Polish driver, who was killed with a gunshot to the head.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "proud of how calmly most people reacted" to Germany's deadliest attack in years and voiced confidence Amri would be arrested.

But Merkel has been slammed for the glaring security failures that led to Monday's attack.

It was revealed that Amri was a rejected asylum seeker with a history of crime and had long been known to German counter-terrorism agencies.

News weekly Der Spiegel reported that Amri had offered to carry out a suicide operation and he was monitored from March until September on suspicions of planning a burglary to pay for automatic weapons.

However, authorities stopped the surveillance after failing to find evidence of the plot.

While the debate rages, many Germans were still looking forward to Christmas Eve today. On Thursday, Berliners flocked to the re-opened Breitscheid square Christmas market.

The government has appealed for people to carry on as normal and not to give in to fear.

Organisers dimmed festive lights and turned down the Christmas jingles as a mark of respect for those killed.

Victims were also honoured with candles, flowers, letters of condolence and signs reading "Love Not Hate".- AFP

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