Three decades on, Germans remember surprise fall of Berlin Wall

Three decades on, Germans remember surprise fall of Berlin Wall
By Elena Gyldenkerne

BERLIN (Reuters) – Sascha Moellering witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate on Nov. 9, 1989. But it took about another 10 years for the border between the communist East and capitalist West to come down in his mind.

His mother was watching television at home and saw images of people shaking fences at the border after Guenter Schabowski, a senior East German communist official, accidentally announced the opening of the wall at a news conference.

“At some point my mother looked at me and asked: ‘What are you doing here? Go! This is history! And you have to go’,” Moellering recalled ahead of the 30th anniversary of the event which ultimately led to German reunification.

“There were a few thousand people standing on the wall singing and dancing to Beatles songs, ‘Give peace a chance’, of course, and the mood was really great,” he said.

Pressure had been building on the East German government for months to let its citizens travel freely when Riccardo Ehrman, a journalist at ANSA news agency, asked a clearly underprepared Schabowski about current travel rules.

Stumbling over his words, Schabowski said the East German government had decided to let citizens leave through any of the border crossings – and he believed the new rule would take effect immediately. Dumbfounded and euphoric East Germans rushed to the border to get a glimpse of the West.

“I am not sure that I really contributed but maybe, if I did help it a very, very little bit, I am incredibly proud,” Ehrman told Reuters.

It later turned out that the announcement was not supposed to be made until 4 a.m. the following day. Schabowski had also meant to say East Germans could apply for visas in an orderly manner.

“A DIFFERENT WORLD”

Hans Modrow, the last Communist premier of East Germany, was taken by surprise.

“I was walking when a young man came to me and said ‘Have you heard? The border is open!’ (And I asked) ‘Where does that come from?’ (And he said) ‘Yes, the border is open, should I go?’ And I said: ‘Why would you go?’,” he told Reuters.

Susanne Roebisch, who was from East Berlin but was one of the few who managed to get permission to move to West Berlin with her family in 1985, remembers saying goodbye to everyone she knew as a 14-year-old, never expecting to see them again.

They got a shock when they heard the wall had been breached.

“We all sat there, thinking: ‘What? The wall is open now? Was that a clear statement? Did he say everyone can go from East to West and West to East? What?’,” she said.

Her father, who kept a detailed diary, made a note in the page for Nov. 9, 1989 reading: “The border is open”. The entries for the following days show they received a steady stream of visits from family and friends who lived in the East.

But while the physical wall came down quickly, it has taken much longer for Germans to feel like East and West have really become one country.

A majority of Germans in the former communist East still feel like second-class citizens, even though they are catching up economically with western regions, a government report showed in September.

Helmut Kohl, the chancellor who united Germany, pushed through political union. But factors including outdated economic structures and a way of life imposed on citizens by communist rule, have hampered integration.

Moellering said it took him a long time to see East Berlin as part of Berlin. “The feeling – as a young boy who grew up sheltered in Lichterfelde, on the other side of the town – was that it (the East) was a completely different world.”

“It took me about ten years to erase the border in my head.”

(Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Hundreds evacuated as forest fire sends smoke over Berlin

Firefighters help to put out a forest fire near Treuenbrietzen, Germany August 24, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

TREUENBRIETZEN, Germany (Reuters) – Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes as around 600 firefighters battled a blaze in a forest strewn with unexploded ammunition south of Berlin on Friday and a pall of acrid smoke hung over the city.

Attempts to fight the fire were complicated by the presence of the ammunition thought to date from the Soviet Army’s activities in former East Germany.

The blaze, about 50 km (30 miles) southeast of Berlin, spread rapidly overnight to cover an area the size of 500 football fields, aided by the parched conditions after one of Europe’s hottest summers in living memory.

“I have huge respect for the firefighters who are out there right now, risking their lives. We know there is ammunition lying around in the forest,” said local politician Guenther Baaske, adding that some explosions had been heard.

The summer has seen forest fires across much of eastern Germany, but this blaze, so close to its largest city, led authorities to activate emergency alert systems in the early hours of Friday telling Berliners to shut their windows.

Firefighters help to put out a forest fire near Treuenbrietzen, Germany August 24, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Firefighters help to put out a forest fire near Treuenbrietzen, Germany August 24, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Helicopters dropped water on flames near the village of Treuenbrietzen and a Reuters photographer saw firefighters spraying water in a blackened landscape thick with smoke.

Flames came within 100 meters of houses in some places. Authorities said 540 people had to leave their homes, with many forced into emergency accommodation.

In many places flames reached as high as the forest canopy in the ordinarily swampy, heavily-wooded region that surrounds Berlin.

(Reporting by Hannibal Hanschke and Reuters TV; Writing by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

German police defuse WW2 bomb after evacuating central Berlin

Police officers look at a dismantled World War Two bomb at a construction site next to the central train station in Berlin, Germany, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

BERLIN (Reuters) – Bomb disposal experts defused a World War Two bomb in Berlin on Friday after evacuating an area in the heart of Berlin including the central train station, a hospital and the Economy Ministry.

The 500-kg British bomb was discovered during building work this week, more than seven decades after the end of World War Two.

Some 10,000 people – including residents, hospital patients and office workers – were evacuated from 9 a.m. from buildings within an 800 metre radius of the bomb while experts performed the delicate operation.

Police posted a video on Twitter showing officers walking up the stairs in an apartment building with the caption: “We’re not bringing room service or breakfast in bed but a personal wake-up call.”

The gave the all the clear in the early afternoon and the city began getting back to normal.

Long-distance and local train transport at the central station was disrupted for several hours but police said on Twitter that the station had now re-opened. Bus and tram services also restarted.

The evacuation area included the Natural History Museum, the BND intelligence agency, a clinic of the Charite hospital and an army hospital.

Some roads were closed but were due to gradually reopen.

Germany still discovers more than 2,000 tonnes of live bombs and munitions every year.

Last year some 60,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Frankfurt after a massive bomb dropped by Britain’s Royal Air Force was unearthed.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; additional reporting by Laura Dubois; Editing by Toby Chopra and Alison Williams)

Germany urges Erdogan not to address Turks during G20 Hamburg visit

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan reviews a guard of honour during the launch of a new Turkish Navy ship in Tuzla, near Istanbul, Turkey, July 3, 2017.

BERLIN (Reuters) – The German government urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday to respect its request that he not address Turks living in Germany when he attends this week’s Hamburg summit of the world’s 20 largest economies.

Ties between Berlin and Ankara have soured over the past year due to disagreements on a range of political and security issues, including Turkey’s jailing of a German-Turkish journalist and its refusal to let German lawmakers visit German troops at a Turkish air base.

Erdogan was also infuriated by what he called “Nazi era tactics” when some local German authorities, citing security concerns, barred Turkish politicians from campaigning in Germany ahead of a referendum on expanding the president’s powers.

Last week Germany rejected a request from Ankara that Erdogan be allowed to address members of the 3 million-strong ethnic Turkish community living in Germany during the G20 summit.

In unusually strong language that underlined the poor state of relations, a German foreign ministry spokesman said even appearances by Erdogan at a Turkish consulate or via a video feed would “would be an affront to the clearly expressed will of the government and a violation of German sovereignty”.

“Appearances of this nature have to be requested well in advance,” Martin Schaefer told a news conference when asked about “rumors” that Erdogan might still address Germany’s Turks despite Berlin’s request.

He said Germany could not ban Erdogan from speaking at a Turkish consulate, but had options for influencing such actions.

Last week German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said he did not want to see Turkish domestic conflicts played out among the Turkish community in Germany – a reference to deep political divisions within Turkey.

 

(Reporting By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Gareth Jones)

 

Berlin Christmas market attacker got order directly from IS: report

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the site where a truck ploughed through a crowd at a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz square near the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm avenue in the west of Berlin, Germany, December 19, 2016 REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

BERLIN (Reuters) – The Tunisian who killed 12 people by driving a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin received his orders directly from Islamic State, a German magazine reported on Saturday.

The militant group claimed responsibility for the attack on Dec. 19, but it was unclear whether it had planned and executed it, or just inspired the attacker with its calls on supporters to hit targets in enemy countries.

Der Spiegel cited information provided to German security authorities from the United Arab Emirates on Jan. 8 that said Anis Amri, the failed asylum seeker who drove the truck into the crowd, had received an order from a squad within IS.

The squad is known to German authorities from other proceedings against suspected IS militants disguised as refugees, the magazine said.

Amri, who had pledged allegiance to Islamic State, was shot dead by Italian police in Milan four days after the Berlin attack. Islamic State said the attack had been perpetrated by an IS “soldier … in response to calls to target nationals of the coalition countries”.

The federal public prosecutor’s office and the BKA federal police are looking into the information provided by the UAE, the magazine said, adding that German authorities considered the source to be reliable.

When asked for comment, the BKA said the federal public prosecutor’s office was responsible for providing information on the Amri case. The prosecutor’s office declined to comment.

On Wednesday, the prosecutor’s office said it had no evidence that other people based in Germany were involved in preparing or carrying out the attack and an evaluation of Amri’s mobile phone showed he had communicated with an IS member abroad before and during the attack.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Additional reporting by Holger Hansen; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Berlin truck attacker used at least 14 names: German police

Anis Amri suspect of Berlin Christmas market attack

By Joseph Nasr and Matthias Inverardi

BERLIN/DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) – The Tunisian man who killed 12 people last month by plowing a truck into a Berlin Christmas market had lived under at least 14 different names in Germany, a regional police chief said on Thursday, raising more questions about security lapses.

Anis Amri, shot dead by Italian police in Milan on Dec. 23, had been marked as a potential threat by authorities in the western federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW)in February 2016, some six months after he arrived in Germany and applied for asylum.

“He acted in a conspiratorial manner and used various personalities,” Dieter Schuermann, head of the NRW Criminal Police Unit, told the regional parliament during a briefing.

The 24-year-old divided his time between NRW and Berlin, where intelligence officials also classified him as a potential threat. But there was a consensus among security officials that he posed no concrete threat, Schuermann said.

An investigation into the attack is focusing on whether Amri had any accomplices.

Police arrested another Tunisian man in Berlin this week, who prosecutors say had dinner with Amri at an Arab restaurant in the capital one day before the attack on Dec. 19.

“INTENSIVE DISCUSSIONS”

A spokeswoman for the prosecution said on Wednesday that Amri and the arrested suspect, identified as 26-year-old Bilel A., had “very intensive discussions” at the restaurant on the eve of the attack.

The co-owner of the restaurant in north Berlin where the two allegedly met told Reuters on Thursday he had not been aware that Amri had dined at the premises until police came asking if they could have CCTV footage recorded on Dec. 18.

“No one who was here that night remembers seeing him,” said the co-owner, declining to give his name and requesting the eatery not be named.

“We are so busy we hardly have time to breathe. The police said he was here between 8 and 9 p.m.,” said the man, serving lunch as the restaurant began filling up.

At a shelter for migrants at the western end of Berlin where Bilel A. was arrested, refugees who said they knew Amri’s suspected accomplice said he had always told them he was Libyan.

“The strangest thing about him was that he used to pray every day but most evenings he would go out to nightclubs with his friends,” said Mohammad, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee who said he had shared a room at the shelter with Bilel A. six months ago before moving to another room at the facility.

(Editing by Ralph Boulton)

Germany detains Tunisian man linked to Berlin truck attacker

Police stand in front of the truck used in the Berlin Christmas Market Attack

BERLIN (Reuters) – German police have detained a 26-year-old Tunisian man over links with the perpetrator of an Islamist truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people, a federal prosecutors’ spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Police on Tuesday evening searched the living quarters of the man identified as Bilel A. after he was found to have had dinner with Anis Amri a day before Amri steered a truck through the market on Dec. 19, spokeswoman Frauke Koehler said.

“This contact person is a 26-year-old Tunisian. We are investigating him for possible participation in the attack,” she told reporters.

Amri, 24, also a Tunisian and failed asylum seeker, was killed in a shootout with Italian police on Dec. 23 after fleeing Germany and traveling through the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the Berlin attack.

Koehler said the investigation had shown Amri met the second Tunisian man in a restaurant in central Berlin on the eve of the attack and that the two engaged in “very intense discussions”.

“That triggered the suspicion for us that the suspect, this 26-year-old Tunisian, was possibly involved in the act, or at the very least knew of the attack plans of Anis Amri,” she said.

Koehler said there was insufficient evidence at this point to charge the man with any role in the Christmas market carnage, though had been previously investigated on suspicion of planning a violent attack.

Officials were evaluating communications devices seized during the raid of the man’s accommodations in a Berlin refugee center, and in the course of a second raid the same evening at the flat of another man who had contact with Amri.

In a separate statement, the Berlin state prosecutor’s office said it had detained the 26-year-old Tunisian on Tuesday for suspected social benefit fraud in three German cities.

A spokesman for the Berlin prosecutor’s office said Bilel A. had used at least two aliases, Ahmad H. and Abu M., and also claimed to be Egyptian. He was believed to have arrived in Germany in 2014 or perhaps earlier.

Berlin prosecutors in 2015 investigated whether the man had acquired explosives for an attack but dropped the inquiry in June last year for lack of evidence.

Koehler said Amri stared into a surveillance camera at a subway station near the Berlin zoo shortly after the Christmas market attack, and raised his index finger in a gesture sometimes seen in Islamic State propaganda videos.

She said forensic evidence showed that the Polish driver from whom Amri hijacked the truck was fatally shot while sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle. The gun Amri used was the one found next to his body by police in Milan, Italy, she added.

Belgian prosecutors said on Wednesday Amri made a two-hour stopover at the Brussels North station on Dec. 21 after entering Belgium on a train from Amsterdam, before heading onwards to France.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Michael Nienaber in Berlin, Alissa de Carbonnel in Brussels; editing by Mark Heinrich)

European cities ramp up security for New Year after Berlin attack

German policemen patrol

By Oliver Denzer and Geert De Clercq

BERLIN/PARIS (Reuters) – European capitals tightened security on Friday ahead of New Year’s celebrations, erecting concrete barriers in city centers and boosting police numbers after the Islamic State attack in Berlin last week that killed 12 people.

In the German capital, police closed the Pariser Platz square in front of the Brandenburg Gate and prepared to deploy 1,700 extra officers, many along a party strip where armored cars will flank concrete barriers blocking off the area.

“Every measure is being taken to prevent a possible attack,” Berlin police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf told Reuters TV. Some police officers would carry sub-machine guns, he said, an unusual tactic for German police.

Last week’s attack in Berlin, in which a Tunisian man plowed a truck into a Christmas market, has prompted German lawmakers to call for tougher security measures.

In Milan, where police shot the man dead, security checks were set up around the main square. Trucks were banned from the centers of Rome and Naples. Police and soldiers cradled machine guns outside tourists sites including Rome’s Colosseum.

Madrid plans to deploy an extra 1,600 police on the New Year weekend. For the second year running, access to the city’s central Puerta del Sol square, where revellers traditionally gather to bring in the New Year, will be restricted to 25,000 people, with police setting up barricades to control access.

In Cologne in western Germany, where hundreds of women were sexually assaulted and robbed outside the central train station on New Year’s Eve last year, police have installed new video surveillance cameras to monitor the station square.

The attacks in Cologne, where police said the suspects were mainly of North African and Arab appearance, fueled criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to accept nearly 900,000 migrants last year.

The Berlin attack has intensified that criticism.

In Frankfurt, home to the European Central Bank and Germany’s biggest airport, more than 600 police officers will be on duty on New Year’s Eve, twice as many as in 2015.

In Brussels, where Islamist suicide bombers killed 16 people and injured more than 150 in March, the mayor was reviewing whether to cancel New Year fireworks, but decided this week that they would go ahead.

PARIS PATROLS

In Paris, where Islamic State gunmen killed 130 people last November, authorities prepared for a high-security weekend, the highlight of which will be the fireworks on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, where some 600,000 people are expected.

Ahead of New Year’s Eve, heavily armed soldiers patrolled popular Paris tourist sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre museum.

In the Paris metropolitan area, 10,300 police, gendarmes, soldiers, firemen and other personnel will be deployed, police said, fewer than the 11,000 in 2015 just weeks after the Nov. 13 attack at the Bataclan theater.

Searches and crowd filtering will be carried out by private security agents, particularly near the Champs-Élysées where thousands of people are expected, authorities said.

Across France, more than 90,000 police including 7,000 soldiers will be on duty for New Year’s Eve, authorities said.

On Wednesday, police in southwest France arrested a man suspected of having planned an attack on New Year’s Eve.

Two other people, one of whom was suspected of having planned an attack on police, were arrested in a separate raid, also in southwest France, near Toulouse, police sources told Reuters.

“We must remain vigilant at all times, and we are asking citizens to also be vigilant,” French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux told a news conference in Paris, noting that the threat of a terrorist attack was high.

In Vienna, police handed out more than a thousand pocket alarms to women, eager to avoid a repeat of the sexual assaults at New Year in Cologne in 2015.

“At present, there is no evidence of any specific danger in Austria. However, we are talking about an increased risk situation,” Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said.

“We are leaving nothing to chance with regard to security.”

In Ukraine, police arrested a man on Friday who they suspected of planning a Berlin copycat attack in the city of Odessa.

(Additional reporting by Maria Sheahan in Frankfurt, Kirsti Knolle in Vienna, Teis Jensen in Copenhagen, Isla Binnie in Rome, Sarah White in Madrid, Robert Muller in Prague, Bate Felix and Johnny Cotton in Paris; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Asia on Christmas alert as police foil two suspected bomb plots

Indonesian police stand guard with their sniffer dogs providing security ahead of the Christmas and New Years holiday at Gubeng station, Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia December 23, 2016 in this photo taken

y Fransiska Nangoy and Panarat Thepgumpanat

JAKARTA/BANGKOK (Reuters) – Security forces across Asia were on alert on Friday ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays, as police in Australia and Indonesia said they had foiled bomb plots and Malaysian security forces arrested suspected militants.

Australian police said they had prevented attacks on prominent sites in Melbourne on Christmas Day that authorities described as “an imminent terrorist event” inspired by Islamic State.

The announcement came after an attack in Berlin in which a truck smashed through a Christmas market on Monday, killing 12 people. The suspect was killed in a pre-dawn shoot-out with police in Milan on Friday, Italy’s interior minister said.

In Indonesia, where Islamic State’s first attack in Southeast Asia killed four people in Jakarta in January, at least 14 people were being interrogated over suspected suicide bomb plots targeting the presidential palace in Jakarta and another undisclosed location, police said.

Anti-terrorism police killed three suspects in a gunfight on Wednesday on the outskirts of the capital, Jakarta.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, would deploy 85,000 police and 15,000 military staff for the Christmas and New Year period, police said.

Moderate Indonesian Muslim groups were helping authorities secure Christmas celebrations amid heightened religious tension after the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, went on trial on a charge of blasphemy against Islam, which he denies.

Hardline group Islamic Defenders Front swept into shopping centers in the city of Surabaya, in East Java, last week to make sure Muslim staff were not forced by employers to wear Santa hats or other Christmas gear.

In West Java, a group stopped a Christmas event as it was being held in a public building rather than in a church.

In Jakarta, about 300 volunteers from Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s biggest moderate Muslim group, will join police in overseeing security.

“The focus is against terrorism, especially in Jakarta and Bali, because these are the traditional targets,” Indonesia police chief Tito Karnavian told reporters.

The largely Hindu island of Bali, famed for its temples and beaches, suffered Indonesia’s most serious militant attack, in 2002, when 202 people were killed, most of them foreigners, by bombs at a bar.

WARNINGS, PATROLS

In the Pakistani city of Lahore, where 72 people were killed in an Easter Day bombing targeting Christians this year, police said 2,000 Muslim volunteers had been trained to help with security.

“A three-layer security will be arranged around every church in Lahore,” said Haider Ashraf, the city’s deputy inspector general of police.

He said and CCTV cameras were monitoring churches and other gathering places for Christians, who make up about 1 percent of Muslim-majority Pakistan’s 190 million people.

Police in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where Islamic State claimed responsibility for a grenade attack on a bar on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in June, said this week they had arrested seven people for suspected links to the militant group.

Police will monitor transport hubs, entertainment centers and tourist spots.

“We try not to have too much physical presence in public and focus more on prevention,” deputy home minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said. “People should feel free to enjoy their holidays.”

The U.S. embassy in India warned this week of an increased threat to places frequented by foreigners.

In mostly Muslim Bangladesh, where a militant group killed 22 people, most of them foreigners, at a Dhaka cafe in July, police would be patrolling near churches, an officer said.

Mostly Buddhist Thailand plans to have more than 100,000 police on patrol until mid-January, police said, adding it was an increase from last year, without giving details.

Thai deputy national police spokesman Kissana Phathancharoen said no intelligence pointed to a possible attack but “we will not let our guard down”.

Multi-ethnic Singapore, a major commercial, banking and travel hub that is home to many Western expatriates, will deploy police at tourist and shopping areas. Police said bags may be checked.

(Additional reporting by Mubasher Bukhari in LAHORE, Pakistan; Rozanna Latiff in KUALA LUMPUR, Aradhana Aravindan in SINGAPORE, Serajul Quadir in DHAKA and Tommy Wilkes in NEW DELHI; Writing by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Fingerprints of Tunisian suspect in Berlin attack found on truck door

Flowers are seen near the scene where a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital last night in Berlin, Germany,

By Michelle Martin and Michael Nienaber

BERLIN (Reuters) – Investigators found fingerprints of a Tunisian suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack on the door of the truck that ploughed through the crowds, killing 12, German media said on Thursday, as a nationwide manhunt for the migrant was underway.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack in which a truck smashed through wooden huts selling gifts, mulled wine and sausages on Monday evening. It was the deadliest attack on German soil since 1980.

The media did not name their source for the report about 24-year-old Anis Amri’s fingerprints and police declined to comment.

Anis Amri in a combination image released by German police.

Anis Amri in a combination image released by German police. REUTERS/BKA

The Berlin attack has raised concerns across Europe in the approach to Christmas, with markets in France, target of a series of militant attacks over the last year, tightening security with concrete barriers. Troops were also being posted at churches.

The Berlin market reopened on Thursday ringed by concrete bollards.

Police in the western German city of Dortmund arrested four people who had been in contact with Amri, media reports said, but a spokesman for the chief federal prosecutor denied that and said he would give no further details on the operation.

Bild newspaper cited an anti-terrorism investigator as saying it was clear in spring that Amri was looking for accomplices for an attack and was interested in weapons.

ASYLUM REQUEST REJECTED

The report said preliminary proceedings had been opened against Amri in March based on information he was planning a robbery to get money to buy automatic weapons and “possibly carry out an attack”.

In mid-2016, he spoke to two IS fighters and Tunisian authorities listened in on their conversation before informing German authorities. Amri also offered himself as a suicide attacker on known Islamist chat sites, Bild said.

Police started looking for Amri after finding an identity document under the driver’s seat of the truck used in the attack. Authorities have stressed he is just a suspect and not necessarily the driver of the truck.

Broadcaster rbb said the perpetrator lost both his wallet and mobile phone while running away from the attack site.

On Wednesday, Ralf Jaeger, interior minister of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), said the Tunisian appeared to have arrived in Germany in July 2015 and his asylum application had been rejected in June 2016.

Klaus Bouillon, head of the group of interior ministers from Germany’s federal states, said Islamists often left identity documents at attack sites – as was the case in Paris attacks – to steer public opinion against refugees.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has faced calls to tighten asylum procedures since the attack. Armin Schuster of her Christian Democrats, told broadcaster NDR: “We need to send the signal: Only set off for Germany if you have a reason for asylum.”

The Italian Foreign Ministry said an Italian woman named Fabrizia Di Lorenzo was among the victims and the Israeli Foreign Ministry said an Israeli woman called Dalia Elyakim had been identified among the dead.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin, Michael Nienaber, Thorsten Severin, Victoria Bryan in Berlin and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; additional reporting by Sabine Siebold in Mazar-i-Sharif,Afghanistan; editing by Ralph Boulton)