Hundreds attend funeral of Polish truck driver Lukasz Urban killed in Berlin

The wife of Lukasz Urban touches his coffin during his funeral in Banie, Poland, on Dec 30, 2016.
The wife of Lukasz Urban touches his coffin during his funeral in Banie, Poland, on Dec 30, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

WARSAW (REUTERS) - Polish President Andrzej Duda and hundreds of mourners on Friday (Dec 30) attended the funeral of Lukasz Urban, the Polish truck driver who was killed and his vehicle used to crash into a Berlin Christmas market last week.

The 37-year-old father of a teenage boy was among 12 people killed in the attack claimed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Germany's Federal Prosecutor's Office said on Thursday that Urban had died shortly before the attack and forensic tests were needed to determine whether he had been shot with a gun later found on the attacker in Milan.

Mourners packed a small church in Banie, the driver's home village, for mass, while several trucks parked nearby honked their horns to honour the driver, private TV channel TVN24 showed.

Duda laid a wreath and briefly kneeled in front of Urban's white coffin, after attending mass in the village in northwestern Poland, 15km from the German border.

Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said earlier Urban's son and wife would receive a special pension, while an Internet crowdfunding campaign started by a British truck driver has raised more than £177,000 (S$316,000) for the family.

"Poles have fallen victim in terrorist attacks before," Szydlo said in a letter to the family read during Friday's church service. "But the tragedy in Berlin is extraordinary in terms of its ruthlessness and brutality."

The suspected Berlin attacker, 24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri, was shot dead by Italian police on Friday after a European-wide manhunt.

A local trucking association boss, Romuald Szmyt, laid the blame for Urban's death on the company due to receive his cargo of 24 tonnes of steel elements, saying its officials should not have made the driver wait to unload.

"Lukasz Urban was a very good driver," he told mourners. "He was meant to unload on Tuesday but he arrived early. Two German drivers arrived and they were unloaded on Monday. He had to wait."