Polish truck driver shot long before Berlin attack: Report

A clergyman speaks in the church of the Polish Catholic Mission in the district of Kreuzberg during a memorial service for the murdered truck driver in the attack on the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz, in Berlin, Germany, on Dec 22, 2016.
A clergyman speaks in the church of the Polish Catholic Mission in the district of Kreuzberg during a memorial service for the murdered truck driver in the attack on the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz, in Berlin, Germany, on Dec 22, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

BERLIN (REUTERS) - A Polish truck driver whose hijacked vehicle was used to crash into a Berlin Christmas market was shot in the head several hours before the attack and could not have attempted to foil it as previously thought, Bild newspaper reported on Tuesday (Dec 27).

The newspaper quoted a confidential coroners report that said driver Lukasz Urban, 37, had suffered not only knife wounds in a battle in the truck cabin but also a gun shot wound to the head some 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours before the 8 pm attack.

There was no confirmation to the Bild report available.

A total of 12 people were killed in the attack last Monday (Dec 19).

The Tunisian assailant, 24-year-old Anis Amri, was shot dead by Italian police in shootout on Friday (Dec 23) after a European-wide manhunt. In a video released after his death, he is seen pledging his allegiance to militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The Berlin state interior minister Andreas Geisel had said on Friday that Urban had "quite probably" tried to disrupt the attack by seizing control of the steering wheel before being shot in the head after the truck veered to the left. It came to a halt after driving for just 60 metres into the market that extended more than 400 meters, averting further deaths.

This helped start a crowdfunding campaign that raised over US$170,000 (S$246,000) for the family of Urban. The campaign was started by British truck driver Dave Duncan a day after the assailant attacked Lukasz and hijacked his truck.