Berlin truck attack suspect shot dead in Milan

Anis Amri, the Tunisian suspect in the deadly Berlin Christmas market attack, was killed in a shootout with police in Milan, officials in Italy said Friday, ending a four-day Europe-wide manhunt.

Amri’s identity has been confirmed “without a shadow of a doubt,” Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti said at a press conference.

The ANSA news agency, citing security sources, added that the man’s fingerprints matched Amri’s.

The suspect was stopped for a routine check at around 3a.m. (0200 GMT) in Sesto San Giovanni, in the northern outskirts of Milan. When an officer asked him for his documents, Amri pulled out a gun and shot him.

He was killed when police fired back, the minister said.

The officer is in hospital, but is not in life-threatening condition.

“Anis Amri was not carrying any documents, but a loaded .22 gun. His identity was confirmed by forensic police who arrived on the scene immediately after the event,” Italian police said in a statement detailing the events.

Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper reported that police officers found a ticket for a train from Chambery, in south-eastern France, arriving in Milan at 1 am, just two hours before he was shot dead.

A spokesman for Germany’s Interior Ministry declined to confirm that the suspect killed in Milan was Amri, but said it would be “relieved” if the suspected Berlin attacker’s identity is confirmed.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said he personally told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Amri was killed in Milan.

“We remain on maximum alert, threats must not be underestimated, but what happened last night I think should allow all of our citizens to know that the state is present, that Italy is present,” the prime minister said.

Amri, a 24-year-old Tunisian national who had been due for deportation from Germany, is believed to have driven a large truck laden with steel into a Berlin Christmas market late Monday, killing 12 people and injuring 53.

Amri reportedly spent several years in Italy before entering Germany in July 2015.

According to German media reports before the shootout in Milan, German authorities had believed that Amri was unlikely to have fled beyond Berlin after the attack. Officers have carried out several raids across the city, and in the western state of North Rhine,Westphalia, where Amri is known to have spent time.

On Thursday and Friday, police searched a mosque in Berlin’s Moabit district where Amri was reportedly sighted several days before and immediately after the attack.

Amri arrived in Italy in February 2011, among thousands of migrants from Tunisia who crossed the Mediterranean in the wake of the Arab Spring. He spent several months in a youth centre near the Sicilian city of Catania.

On Oct. 23, 2011, Amri was arrested on suspicion of arson, assault, intimidation and embezzlement, and was later sentenced to four years in prison, during which he was detained in six different Sicilian facilities.

On May 18, 2015, Amri was released from Palermo’s Ucciardone prison, but remained under custody in a migrant detention centre after being issued with a repatriation order, ANSA reported.

The order could not be executed because Tunisian authorities did not respond in time to requests for his identification. He was eventually let go and given orders to leave Italy of his own accord.

Two months later he entered Germany via the south-western city of Freiburg, which is close to the Swiss and French borders, according to local authorities.

A Berlin official told a parliamentary committee on Friday that several victims of the attack are still in life-threatening condition.

Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s senator of the interior, said that 53 people were injured in the attack, 14 of them “very seriously.” (dpa/NAN)

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