Anis Amri, the Tunisian national suspected of killing twelve people by driving a semi-truck into a crowd of Berlin Christmas shoppers on Monday, was shot and killed by Italian police early today in the city of Milan. According to multiple news sources, Amri was killed at 3:00AM local time on Friday.
Police officers had stopped Amri’s car for a “routine identity check.” Amri reached into his backpack, but instead of producing identification, he pulled out a gun and opened fire “without hesitation,” wounding one of the officers. The other officer then shot Amri dead. Sky News reports that the officer’s injuries were not life-threatening. No other injuries were reported.
“Italian media reports said Amri shouted ‘Allahu Akbar,’, or ‘God is Great,’ during the firefight,” also according to Sky News.
Amri had been to Italy before. In 2011, he’d spent three-and-a-half years in prison for “setting fire to a refugee centre.” German authorities had kept him under cover surveillance for several months this year. “[A]uthorities failed to deport him because he lacked valid identity papers and Tunisia initially denied that he was a citizen.”
The suspect had stayed in Berlin at a mosque for several hours after the attack, but had fled before German police conducted a raid on that location.
There is an unconfirmed report from Britain’s left-wing daily The Guardian that the gun used in the shootout is the same one used to murder Lukasz Urban, the Polish driver of the truck stolen and used in the Christmas terror attack. No details on the type of firearm used at this point, either.
The Guardian‘s Kate Connolly also reports that at a press conference, German officials came under a lot of pressure pressure…
to explain why Anis Amri was able to move freely in Germany and plan his attack under the nose of authorities, particularly following the emergence of the footage showing that he was monitored entering an Isis (Islamic State)-associated mosque in Berlin on 14 and 15 December and again leaving it seven hours after the attack.
The officials are very defensive, and have several times answered journalists that they cannot answer many of the questions, and that it would be disrespectful to speculate while many of the victims of the attack have not even yet been buried.
Elsewhere, law enforcement officials appear to have their hands full working to prevent other attacks. German police arrested two brothers from Kosovo on suspicion of planning an attack on shopping centers in the western Germany city of Oberhausen. It is unclear whether this was directly related to the Berlin attack, or whether the alleged plotters simply shared ideological inspiriation. Kosovo is an overwhemingly Muslim country in the Balkans. NATO went to war in 1999, to support Kosovar rebels fighting Serbia, which controlled the country at the time.
In Australia, police have arrested five men for plotting to attack three Melbourne landmarks (Federation Square, Flinders Street Station, and St. Paul’s Cathedral,) on Christmas Day.
Three of the alleged plotters — Abdullah Chaarani, 26, Hamza Abbas, 21, and Ahmed Mohamed, 29 — were denied bail. The Guardian also reports that “[t]he Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations…on Friday accused the police of using excessive force when making the arrests.” Abbas had allegedly suffered “soft tissue injuries during his arrest on Thursday night.”