GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing a backlash after 12 people were killed when an attacker ploughed through innocent revellers at a Christmas market in a truck.
The country’s far-right leaders have blasted the chancellor’s “open-door” immigration policy for sparking the attack in Berlin – and even her own party is putting the boot in.
“These are Merkel’s dead,” Marcus Pretzell, chairman of the Alternative for Germany party in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, posted on Twitter.
And Klaus Bouillon of Mrs Merkel’s CDU party said told Saarland radio: “We must state that we are in a state of war, although some people who want to see only the good can not see.”
Merkel – who attended an award ceremony to celebrate the International Day of Migrants the day of the attack – said she was “shocked and shaken” by the tragedy.
The open-door approach, criticised by political allies and foes, may seal Merkel’s fate if the attacker turns out to be a migrant let in to the country.
A series of violent attacks and sexual offences involving migrants has hardened the German public’s attitude.
On New Year’s Eve 2015 hundreds of sexual assaults, including at least 24 rapes, and numerous thefts were reported in Germany, mainly in Cologne city centre. Similar incidents were reported in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, and Bielefeld.
On July 18 a 17-year-old Afghan refugee wielding an axe and a knife attacks passengers on a train in southern Germany, severely wounding four, before being shot dead by police. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
Four days later an 18-year-old German-Iranian gunman apparently acting alone killed nine people in Munich. The teenager had no Islamist ties but was obsessed with mass killings.
The attack was carried out on the fifth anniversary of twin attacks by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik that killed 77 people.
On July 24 a 21-year-old Syrian refugee was arrested after killing a pregnant woman and wounding two people with a machete in the southwestern German city of Reutlingen, near Stuttgart.
That same day a Syrian man wounded 15 people when he blows himself up outside a music festival in Ansbach in southern Germany. Islamic State claims responsibility for the attack.
The 27-year-old arrived in Germany two years ago and claimed asylum. He had been in trouble with the police repeatedly for drug-taking and other offences and had faced deportation to Bulgaria.
The presence of almost a million recent migrants alone has served to trigger the biggest rise in right-wing support since the 1930s.
Monday night’s terror attack could spell doom for Merkel’s bid for a fourth term in office next year.
Local broadcaster RBB cited security services as saying the arrested truck driver – who police sources now say is NOT the guilty party – came to Germany via Passau, a city on the Austrian border, on New Year’s Eve 2015.
Daniel Hamilton, executive director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, told Bloomberg Politics: “Germany hasn’t had an attack like this that’s killed a lot of people in a long time, so clearly there will be pressure on her.
“But there will also be a sense that Europeans are in this together, that it’s a common threat.”
The attack in Berlin comes five months after Tunisian extremist Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel ploughed a truck into a crowd on the Nice seafront, killing 86 people.
Germany must assume a truck plowing through a crowded Christmas market in Berlin was a "terrorist attack," Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday, while authorities expressed uncertainty over whether they had arrested the correct suspect.
Twelve people were killed and nearly 50 others injured when the truck drove into the popular Christmas market filled with tourists and locals outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church near Berlin's Zoo station late Monday.
Police detained an asylum-seeker from Pakistan shortly afterward, but he denied involvement, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. The man had entered Germany on Dec. 31 last year and arrived in Berlin in February.