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Merkel thanks Italy after Berlin market attack suspect shot dead in Milan

The news was confirmed by the Italian Interior Minister.

Updated 2.14pm

THE MAIN SUSPECT in the Berlin market attack, Anis Amri was shot dead early this morning in a shootout in Milan.

The Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti confirmed the news at a press conference.

He said that “without a shadow of a doubt”, Amri is the man who was killed.

Minniti said that during routine activity, a state police squad stopped someone who appeared to be a suspect. “The moment he was stopped the man without hesitating immediately took a pistol out of his rucksack and shot the police,” said Minniti.

The police had been asking for identification documents.

One of the police officers was shot in the shoulder and is now recovering in hospital.

Investigations in Milan continue. Minniti thanked the police officers for their work and said that Italy is grateful to them.

The Berlin government is in close contact with the Italian government.

At a press conference this afternoon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed Amri’s death and said that she believed he was the man responsible for the attack. She expressed gratitude to Italian authorities and said that “terrorism is a challenge for us all”.

She said it is good to know that “we are very determined in Europe and beyond to fight it”.

The investigation is not over yet in Berlin, the intelligence bureau will continue the investigation and follow traces and follow the backgrounds. I know we will not rest until we know who may have possibly helped him and if there are helpers of helpers.

Germany Christmas Market Source: Markus Schreiber

She said that Germany will “also accelerate the measurements to increase the numbers of those who are not allowed to reside in Germany”. Merkel said it is the responsibility of the state to safeguard the citizens, and they will do their utmost.

Amri had links to Italy, having arrived in the country from his native Tunisia in 2011.

Shortly after his arrival he was sentenced to a prison term for starting a fire in a refugee centre.

He was released in 2015 and made his way to Germany.

Police commandos yesterday raided three homes and a long-distance bus, prosecutors said, as they cast a wide dragnet for 24-year-old Amri.

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

Tunisia Germany Christmas Market Attack The brother of fugitive Tunisian extremist suspected in Berlin's deadly Christmas market attack. Source: AP Photo/Riadh Dridi

Authorities had issued a Europe-wide wanted notice over the attack, offering a €100,000 reward for information leading to Amri’s arrest.

In Tunisia, a brother of the fugitive earlier appealed to him to surrender.

“If he is listening to me, I tell him: ‘Present yourself’ so the family can rest easier,” Abdelkader Amri told reporters.

If my brother is behind the attack, I say to him ‘You dishonour us’

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 soon.

Tunisia Germany Christmas Market Attack Anis Amri's sister Najoua Amri, speaking to media about her brother. Source: Riadh Dridi

Arrests

Earlier today, it emerged that police in Germany have arrested two brothers on suspicion of planning to attack one of Germany’s biggest shopping centres, four days after Berlin Christmas market attack.

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

Acting on a tip-off from the intelligence services, police were deployed to the shopping complex and a nearby Christmas market in the western city of Oberhausen late last night, they said.

The mall that was targeted, CentrO, is one of the largest in Germany with around 250 shops that are usually packed in the run-up to Christmas.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the assault – their deadliest yet carried out on German soil.

Asylum seeker

Officials have revealed that Amri was a rejected asylum seeker with a history of crime who had spent years in an Italian jail and had long been known to German counter-terrorism agencies.

Germany Christmas Market Source: Michael Sohn

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.

And Berlin prosecutors said Amri had been monitored from March until September, suspected of planning a burglary to pay for automatic weapons to carry out an attack.

However, when authorities failed to find evidence of the plot and watched Amri operate as a small-time drug dealer, the surveillance was stopped.

“They knew him. They did nothing,” ran the scathing headline of Berlin’s BZ tabloid.

Conservative lawmaker Stephan Mayer, a critic of Merkel’s liberal stance on refugees, said the case “held up a magnifying glass” to the failings of her migration policy.

Germany took in more than a million refugees last year, many of them fleeing violence in Syria, North Africa and the Middle East.

© AFP 2016 Additional reporting Aoife Barry

Read: Authorities under fire as it emerges Berlin suspect was under investigation as potential jihadist

Read: Hertha Berlin pay tribute to Christmas market victims

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