Issued on • Modified
Tunisia arrests Berlin attacker nephew
Three jihadist suspects including the nephew of the Berlin Christmas market terrorist have been arrested in Tunisia, as Germany hunts for further possible accomplices in the deadly truck rampage which left 12 dead and dozens injured.
The driver of the truck that ploughed into a Berlin Christmas market last Monday, Anis Amri, was shot dead in a confrontation with police in Milan early on Friday morning.
Now Tunisian authorities say they have arrested Amri’s nephew and two other jihadist suspects who are "connected" to the Tunisian assailant.
The three suspects aged between 18 and 27 were arrested on Friday, and were members of a "terrorist cell ... connected to the terrorist Anis Amri" said a statement from the country’s interior ministry.
It said Amri had sent money to his nephew and encouraged him to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State group.
"One of the members of the cell is the son of the sister of the terrorist (Amri) and during the investigation he admitted that he was in contact with his uncle through the messaging service Telegram," it said.
According to the statement Amri urged his nephew to adopt jihadist "takfir" ideology – that is to excommunicate himself from religious belief – and "pledge allegiance to Daesh (IS)".
The nephew also told investigators that Amri "sent him money through the post ... so that he could join him in Germany," it added.
The unnamed nephew reportedly said that his uncle was the "prince" or leader of a German-based jihadist group known as the "Abu al-Walaa" brigade.
Active terrorist cell Tunisia
Tunisian authorities have not specified where the three suspects were arrested, but said that the "terrorist cell" was "active" between Fouchana south of Tunis, and Oueslatia, the hometown of Amri's family in central Tunisia.
The 24-year-old is believed to have hijacked a truck and used it to mow down holiday revellers at a Berlin Christmas market on Monday December 19, killing 12 and injuring dozens.
The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group.
Berlin attacker killed in Milan
Italian policeman killed Amri in an early Friday morning shootout, after he pulled out a gun and fired at them during a routine identity check near Milan's Sesto San Giovanni railway station.
He lightly wounded one of the policemen before being killed by the other.
Police found a train ticket from France in his backpack, and it's believed Amri travelled from Chambéry in the French Alps via Turin to Milan.
A British woman has told Sky News she is convinced she saw the Berlin attacker at a famous French ski resort two days before he was shot dead in Italy.
Amri's port of entry to Europe was Italy, arriving on a migrant boat in 2011. He then spent four years in prison for starting a fire in a refugee centre, during which time he was apparently radicalised.
On his release he left for Germany where he was refused asylum several times under different identities.
German hunt for accomplices
German police meantime continue to search for possible collaborators in the Xmas market attack.
"It is very important for us to determine whether there was a network of accomplices ... in the preparation or the execution of the attack, or the flight of the suspect," federal prosecutor Peter Frank said yesterday.
German authorities have come under fire for failing to act quicker on Amri, who they had been monitoring since March on suspicions of planning an attack.
German police release other terror suspects
German police meanwhile have released two brothers suspected of planning an attack on one of the country's biggest shopping centres.
The police say they lacked evidence to incriminate the 28 and 31-year-old brothers, originally from Kosovo, who were arrested on Friday.
With Germany on high alert following the Berlin market terror, the possibility of another attack planned for the CentrO mall in Oberhausen near the Dutch border had the country even more on edge.