Berlin attack suspect killed in Milan shoot-out

Italian police and forensic experts gathering around the body of Anis Amri after he was shot dead in Milan yesterday. The suspect was killed after a dramatic 3am encounter at a routine checkpoint in the Sesto San Giovanni area of greater Milan.
Italian police and forensic experts gathering around the body of Anis Amri after he was shot dead in Milan yesterday. The suspect was killed after a dramatic 3am encounter at a routine checkpoint in the Sesto San Giovanni area of greater Milan.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Tunisian had shot Italian cop at checkpoint; Germany foils new terror plot targeting mall

ROME • The suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack was shot dead near Milan, according to Italian officials, bringing an end to an international manhunt for the 24- year-old Tunisian that had kept the continent on edge as the holidays fast approached.

Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti said Anis Amri was killed after a dramatic 3am encounter at a routine checkpoint in the Piazza I Maggio in the Sesto San Giovanni area of greater Milan.

When confronted by police, Amri pulled a gun and shot one officer, before being shot dead.

His identity was confirmed via a fingerprint match.

"He was the most wanted man in Europe," said Mr Minniti. "There is absolutely no doubt that the person killed is Anis Amri."

The news comes as German police said they had thwarted a new terror attack planned against a shopping mall and arrested two brothers from Kosovo. The authorities detained the brothers, aged 28 and 31, after receiving an intelligence tip-off, according to North Rhine-Westphalia police. Security at the CentrO mall in the western German city of Oberhausen has been beefed up.

Amri had been missing since escaping after Monday's attack in central Berlin. He had links to Italy, having arrived in the country from his native Tunisia in 2011.

Shortly after his arrival in Italy, he was sentenced to four years in prison for starting a fire in a refugee centre. He was released last year and made his way to Germany.

German police said Amri had steered the 40-tonne truck in the attack, after finding his identity papers and fingerprints inside the cab next to the body of its registered Polish driver, who was killed with a gunshot to the head.

A Europe-wide wanted notice had offered a €100,000 (S$151,300) reward for information leading to Amri's arrest.

In Tunisia, a brother of the fugitive had appealed to him to surrender, and said: "If my brother is behind the attack, I say to him, 'You dishonour us'."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday she was proud of how calmly most people reacted to the country's deadliest attack in years. But her assuring message failed to dampen criticism of what many politicians and newspapers slammed as glaring security failures leading up to Monday's attack.

Berlin public broadcaster RBB reported that police filmed Amri heading into a Berlin mosque on Tuesday - after the attack - at a time when the investigation was still focused on a Pakistani suspect who was later released.

Officials earlier revealed that Amri was a rejected asylum seeker with a history of crime, had spent years in an Italian jail and had long been known to German counter-terrorism agencies. News weekly Der Spiegel reported that in wiretaps, Amri could be heard offering to carry out a suicide operation, but that his words were too vague for an arrest warrant.

Amri had been monitored since March, suspected of planning break-ins to raise cash for automatic weapons to carry out an attack - but the surveillance was stopped in September because he was mostly active as a small-time drug dealer.

WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2016, with the headline 'Berlin attack suspect killed in Milan shoot-out'. Print Edition | Subscribe