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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI
Police: Truck Plows Through Crowd In Berlin; Police: Multiple Dead, 50 Injured In Berlin; Turkey: Assassination Gunman Was Off-Duty Police Officer. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired December 19, 2016 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: -- located in a major downtown public square. German police are now saying there are multiple
injuries and German media reports at least one person is dead. You are seeing pictures of the aftermath there. You see a big truck there on
right-hand side with an SUV with the taillights still on there.
You're seeing the festive Christmas lights there of that Berlin Christmas market on the left. Of course, not at all a festive atmosphere right now.
A witness tells CNN there is no way that this was an accident.
Let's bring in another eyewitness to this incident, Jan Hollitzer is in Berlin. He also happens to be a journalist, the deputy editor-in-chief of
"Berliner Morgenpost" and he joins me now on the phone. Jan, first of all, what did you see this evening?
JAN HOLLITZER, DEPUTY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BERLINER MORGENPOST: Yes, I (inaudible) exactly time that the truck moved in the Christmas market on
the other side of the street. Luckily, I have to say, I heard a big noise, and then I moved in the Christmas market and saw there are many chaos.
There was a lot of destruction. There was many injured people and the truck moved right into the way you go through the small houses, and 50 or
60 meters later, he came out left out of the market on the street again.
GORANI: All right, I want to tell our viewers while we were on the phone, Jan, we have been able to confirm at CNN multiple deaths as a result of
this truck plowing into the Christmas market. Fifty injured at least, it appears, right now, according to the latest. Did it appear deliberate
based, Jan, on what you saw?
HOLLITZER: I don't know now what exactly happened because I don't know -- I don't have enough information, but I can confirm there are many injured
people, about 50 and dead people, and the police department, they have the information here and also from reporters outside which they guess it could
be an attack.
GORANI: All right, I mean, of course, we don't absolutely know for sure, but it is starting to look more and more like it would be very difficult to
imagine a scenario in which this is an accident, or someone losing control of a vehicle that size. It does look more and more like that is what
happened. Describe the scene, you mentioned chaos, some Christmas stands flattened as a result. Tell us what you saw in your immediate vicinity
this evening at the market.
HOLLITZER: Yes, destroyed houses, some people who take care of the injured people that lay on the ground, and also under the truck were some people
and the driver of the truck was still inside. And it was really traumatic. Really you sort of --
GORANI: And Jan, if you're able to see CNN, I just want to let our viewers know, these are live pictures from the scene, where we're seeing how big
this truck is. It looks like a huge Lori (ph). You're saying you saw the driver still inside the cab of the truck? Can you describe more of what
you saw in there?
HOLLITZER: I just saw a leg, that's all it seemed. Maybe he --
GORANI: Did he look -- I mean, was he dead? What did he look like?
HOLLITZER: I don't know.
GORANI: You don't know?
HOLLITZER: I don't know. I just said that he was the one person in the truck --
GORANI: And you say you saw a leg, was the door open, you saw a leg dangling?
GORANI: And then unfortunately, of course, you also had to see people under the truck who had been run over?
HOLLITZER: Yes. That's right. Can you describe the scene a little bit more?
HOLLITZER: No, no, I don't want to describe it. It's really scary.
GORANI: I understand. Thank you very much. A terrible thing that you witnessed there. This truck plowing into that Christmas market. Just a
terrible day all around. Jan Hollitzer, thank you so much, the deputy editor-in-chief at "Morgenpost" speaking to us from Berline.
He was there in that market. He saw that truck. He saw people injured possibly even killed. We understand there were reports of multiple deaths
at that market.
[15:05:12]Let's go to Julian Reichelt. He is the editor-in-chief of "Bild." He joins me as well from Berlin. Julian, what are you hearing
from your sources about what happened this evening at that market?
JULIAN REICHELT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "BILD": Hala, hi, good evening. We have numerous reporters on the ground there. They described both horrible scene
of many injured, many casualties, and at the same time, a massive rescue and police operation. I know that place from driving by there every
morning on my way to work.
I know how hard it is to access with a car. There is no real road access leading to it. So it would very hard to access it accidentally and from
looking at our live speeds from our reporters coming in, it seems like the truck pulled through almost all of the Christmas market, which doesn't
really look like it was done accidentally.
GORANI: You're saying it looked like it plowed through almost the entire length of the Christmas market because that's a big area in front of that
REICHELT: It's a big area. I'm just looking at the earliest pictures coming in, it would not have pulled through the length of the Christmas
market, but through the shorter side, the width of the Christmas market and it's also very significant seeing as it is one of the most popular
Christmas markets in Berlin, a true landmark, the city center of West Berlin.
So it is the kind of iconic scene that symbolizes Berlin, that symbolizes Christmas markets in Berlin where everyone would know this is Berlin. It's
again an iconic place, and from looking at those live feeds, we're seeing at least in many people injured.
That there are first reports of death. There are reports coming in from our colleagues that we just talked to that police are treating that as a
terrorist attack, but that is again just one newspaper reporting that so far. But the scene certainly looks like a reminder of what we have seen in
Nice a couple months earlier.
GORANI: Right. Of course, we don't have this officially confirmed. I mean, we are hearing reports, but I know that market as well. I've been
there. It's hard to imagine that was an accident of someone that lost control of the giant truck.
Because we're seeing the images there, Julian, this is a huge truck. It's got that blue siding on it and we're seeing rescue workers there trying to
tend to the people who have been wounded.
By the way, I want to also tell our viewers, 50 injured it looks like and possibly multiple deaths as well. People in Germany must have been, with
all of the attacks happening in France, the attack in Brussels as well a few months ago, must have been concerned this was a possibility in their
country as well if indeed this is an attack.
REICHELT: Well, that is what people have talked about for months now. Hala, as you know from having been in be Berlin, Christmas markets in
Germany have always been considered one of the prime targets, possible targets in a possible attack.
And people have asked this question, how are we prepared against a possible Nice scenario? Again, I drive by the place every morning. We have
reported extensively on new security measures since the wave of terrorism in Europe.
There are more policemen on the scene from what we know, plain clothes policemen, but I have seen nothing like barriers, concrete barriers, or
anything like that that would stop a truck no matter from which motive or accidentally being driven into such a scene.
I have never seen anything like the numerous Christmas markets in Berlin. So it really seems like at least the scenario that we have seen in Nice,
although we do not know the motive yet really has come here and at least injured an awful lot of people although the police is now also saying
through our reporters on the ground that they are counting two fatalities so far.
GORANI: And we were speaking as you were listening, by the way, to this interview, Julian, to Jan Hollitzer of "Morgenpost." He was there. He was
an eyewitness. He just happened to be at that Christmas market and he told us that he saw the leg of someone who was driving that truck, in the cab of
the truck, kind ofdangling out of what look like an open door. So at the very at least, it appears as though this is over, the truck has stopped,
and now it's just a question of trying to figure out what happened.
REICHELT: That is certainly what all German security agency are trying right now. There are also reports that the driver of the truck has
disappeared for some reason. There were no reports of any arrests or any shots fired.
[15:10:04]All our sources tell us that the driver is on the run for again whatever reasons or motives we are not really able to really confirm
anything variant. But from everything we are seeing, from everything we are hearing from our reporters on the ground, judging from all the
different agencies of government and law enforcement that are on the scene, this is certainly being treated as a possible to likely attack.
GORANI: So there is a possibility that the driver is on the run. There is another possibility that perhaps he was immobilized or neutralized, we
don't know. It's very early days right now as we report this breaking news story. I just do wonder, really quickly, in fact I'm going to ask you to
We'll get back to you, Julian, in a little bit later with more on our breaking news because we can go straight to Berlin where our Fred Pleitgen
is standing by. He is on way to the scene. He is on the telephone and joins me now live with the very latest. What are you hearing, Fred?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Hala. Yes, I'm about a mile away from the scene right now so I'm closing in on it.
But I'm also hearing those reports that apparently there are multiple people who are now confirmed dead. At least 50 people who were injured in
And you know, eyewitness reports of this truck just simply plowing into this market and not at all even slowing down. One eyewitness saying that
it was going around 40 miles an hour and I've actually been to this Christmas market a lot, and it is by far, the biggest Christmas market in
the western parts of Berlin, and a very, very busy pedestrian zone.
One that's also been done up quite recently to attract more people and you know, this happened at 8 p.m. local time so this would have been exactly
the time that a lot of people would have been there.
You know, a lot of the shops, people would just come from work that wanted to do some shopping. There is also a big shopping area around here and
then head to the Christmas market to sort of close out the day.
So it really is one of those things where if you target that place, you definitely target a lot of people and it's very difficult also for people
to try and get away because these are market stalls with small little allies in the middle, you know, between the shops --
GORANI: Fred, I wanted to jump in for a second because I have some news. Police are confirming at least nine people dead as a result of this attack,
at least 50 injured. This is starting to look like and I call it an attack because this is what police have told a Reuters reporter as well.
Reuters is reporting that the police are calling this an attack so it looks like we are getting more information that is turning this initial story
into a real tragedy, Fred, at this Christmas market in Berlin.
PLEITGEN: Yes --
GORANI: Are you there yet? How far are you from the scene? What are you seeing on your way?
PLEITGEN: I'm actually coming to the scene right now. There is a lot of cars parked here around this place, and I'm coming up to the scene right
now, it looks like there is a lot of ambulances here, a lot police cars. Obviously the scene, you know, cordoned off and the police are sort of
doing their forensic work.
There's people who are standing behind the police area I think trying to get some information, but yes, the scene is cordoned off and you're
absolutely right the police certainly treating this as an attack at this point.
That seems to be their sort of working theory right now. I'm coming up to the square right now and it's widely cordoned off. There's police
everywhere, plain clothed police. Also some fire department.
I'm seeing a man on the ground with sort of a blanket over him. I'm trying to get a little closer to the scene, but yes, I mean, it is definitely
tragic and the police have definitely widely cordoned off the area to make sure that they can do their work and to also make sure that there is no
people in the way of doing that -- Hala.
GORANI: This is just yet another shocking -- it's starting to look more and more like an attack with a truck, but I imagine that in Berlin and
other parts of Germany, there were fears that an attack like this one could unfold, could take place. There were reports of foiled plots as well. Was
there any increased security around these Christmas markets? Were there concern among people who visit these tourist sites, these sites that
attract so many tourists and visitors, Fred?
PLEITGEN: Yes, I mean, this place would definitely attract a lot of tourists and visitors. You know, Berlin is also one of those locations
that become so much more popular over the past couple of years. And yes, I mean, there will be a lot of visitors, a lot of foreign visitors coming
here from around the world really and especially to this Christmas market here.
[15:15:00]Because this area also is one that's really been trying to advertise itself as one of the main shopping areas of Berlin trying to get
extra people. There's been so much construction, so much renovation done here especially in this part of Berlin to get more people to come shopping
and to get more people from abroad to come to this place.
So it's really something that's been bearing fruit over the past couple of years. More and more visitors have been coming specifically to this
Christmas market to go shopping here. So it is differently, you know, a huge tragedy for the city, and you're right, it's also something that a lot
of people have been fearing could happen.
You know, there is a lot of people here injured, many who obviously saw the Paris attacks. They saw the Brussels attacks and then they saw those
smaller attacks that happened in Germany like you recall the one that happened in August in (inaudible) where a man blew himself up in front of a
concert and it caused less damage than it could have because the suicide vest did not go off the way that the man had obviously planned.
But this is certainly something where -- see a couple of ambulances go by - - where people have been fearing that something like this would happen and obviously we are still in the early stages in the investigation, and it
looks as though it is as bad as people have been fearing.
GORANI: Just one last one, are you able to see the truck from your vantage point right now?
PLEITGEN: Not yet. I went to one of the police barricades and they sort of redirected me to a place where they're collecting all the press. So we
are all sort of moving their right now. I have to go around the building so I haven't seen the truck yet. I'm in the other side of the Christmas
market, but I'm heading in that direction now.
GORANI: Are you seeing any of the damage from where you are?
PLEITGEN: I saw a little bit of the damage. I saw some of the market stalls damaged but only from the rear side. It's a pretty big incident.
The square where this happened is very, very big and that market is very big. They have a lot of damage that was done. A lot of these markets
stalls. They're very small wood stalls. They obviously would do almost nothing to hold up a big truck moving through there.
GORANI: Fred Pleitgen, we'll get back to you, our senior international correspondent in Berlin right now. Julian Reichelt is the editor-in-chief
of "Bild" and he joins me now.
So Reuters is quoting the police as saying this is an attack. We have confirmed at CNN, nine people killed, Julian, 50 injured in Berlin. This
is starting to look like a major incident and an attack at least according to the police quoted by Reuters. And this was a fear for a while now that
this would happen at some point in Germany, Julian.
REICHELT: Absolutely. It is the exact same information that has been told our reporters by police on that scene that you just quoted from Reuters.
So we are hearing the same thing and it's very unlikely right now that this happened accidentally.
We are hearing they are treating -- law enforcement are treating this as a terrorist attack. There has been talk about an incident like this for a
while now. It seemed like this kind of scenario came closer and closer and closer to Germany, with what we saw in Paris, then in Brussels, and Nice as
Interestingly, we have done a lot of investigation about how various radical Islamist groups are communicating with possible sympathizers,
supporters in Germany, and how they're advising them to carry out attacks and what they're telling them.
And those communications are happening through encrypted social media channels like Wicker, for example and what they are telling sympathizers
and supporters in Germany is look, don't go for the classic explosives attack. Don't try to build an explosive device, it's just too complicated.
Go for something like a knife attack or the Nice scenario. So we have seen that over the past weeks, again and again, that sympathizers in Europe and
Germany have been told, look at what they did in Nice, how easy it is. If you want to do something, go rent a car, a truck and do something like that
because it's way more effective and way more likely to succeed.
GORANI: And it's very difficult to protect yourself against, you know, someone who decides to plow into a market. Unless you barricade yourself
behind glass walls and live that kind of life and organize your city in that way. How do you protect yourself against this type of attack?
I wanted to ask you have you heard what happened with the driver. Is he -- we heard potentially he was still in the cab, you've heard that you're on
the run. What can you tell us?
[15:20:05] REICHELT: Our reporters on the ground are telling us that they have zero information from the police about any possible arrest, about any
possibility of shots being fired, about any possibility of the driver being down, and we do know that the cabin of that truck is empty, there is no
And we do not hear anything about any kind of arrests. There are policemen not officially, but telling us on the scene that they are treating this as
a potential driver on the run. So that is what we're seeing as the most likely scenario right now. Combining every bit of information we have, but
we are not able to confirm that yet.
GORANI: Right. And it's a similar situation for us here. We are quoting police that are -- that Reuters is quoting as saying it's an attack. We
don't have that confirmed yet, but it's looking more and more likely like it will be difficult for this to be an accident because describe the area,
Julian, this is away from the main road, right? I mean, you would have to make a very deliberate effort to make it into that square in a vehicle.
REICHELT: This square is built as a place for people who walk there. It's in front of the church, even if there is no Christmas market, there is a
little water place, a place where people sit. It's certainly built as a place where no cars ever go, and there is no roads leading into it.
So it is -- every driver, every local driver would know that there is, you know, no shortcut across that square. It is just very -- what I'm saying
is basically that you need to have a deliberate decision to enter the square with any kind of vehicle.
It wouldn't be happening on accident and then looking at the pictures, I mean, you know that it is pretty long and it is a bit shorter from north to
south, if I remember correctly.
And from looking at pictures and perspectives, it looks like the truck pulled from the top to the bottom through the whole market. That is just
something that from looking at that square every day, I would find impossible to imagine happening as an accident.
GORANI: Julian thanks very much. I apologize for my cough. Julian Reichelt is the editor-in-chief of "Bild" magazine. He is joining us from
Berlin. You're seeing some of the aftermath pictures of what police according to Reuters are saying was an attack on that Christmas market in
Police confirming to us nine people dead. This is the truck in question. Fifty at least injured in what is increasingly looking like an attack.
Just minutes ago, we spoke to an eyewitness to the incident. Emma Rushton describe the horrific scene. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMA RUSHTON, EYEWITNESS (via telephone): We were wondering, it was my first time in Berlin for me. We went down to the Christmas market. We're
enjoying the Christmas lights and some malt wine and we were -- I broke my leg a few years ago so I have to sit for a little bit longer than we were
normally. We were ready to get up and we heard a loud bang and we started to see to our left that Christmas lights were being torn down and we
started to see the top of a truck crashing through the stalls and through people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Emma Rushton there. Let's give you a better idea of where this happened in Berlin. This is a Google Earth view of the scene, take a look.
As we zoom in there, and then you have the actual square, you see the church there, the Christmas market organized in that square.
So as Julian Reichelt of "Bild" was describing to make it into that square, there are no roads or streets leading into it. There's a main road there a
few dozen meters away, but not one that makes it easy for someone to accidentally drift into that square.
We were mentioning that Reuters was quoting police as saying they're treating this as an attack. This is video new to us coming in of the
actual -- I just want to make sure what are we seeing here exactly. Is this when the truck actually plowed into the market? Stephanie.
I don't what we're seeing exactly here. I'm assuming -- we're seeing general scenes of the market, though, I'm not exactly sure if this is when
the truck plowed in. We'll get to that once we're able to confirm what that is. Max Foster is also following the story here in London. Max, what
can you tell us?
MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting. Everyone is now looking as to the motive of this. We don't know what the driver's motive was, many
parallels being made to the attack in Nice early this year that we were all reporting on. And it was a similar sort of intelligence gathering process.
[15:25:05]A truck that has gone into a very crowded space, a Christmas market, which is why people go to out in Berlin to many reasons. They fly
to Berlin this time of year. This is an attack on the culture of Berlin and Germany. So a huge amount of concern around that as we try to
investigate what motive was.
We have to remember, of course, Hala, that earlier this year a bus drove into a crowd here in the U.K. and killed some people and it turned out that
he had a heart attack. It was an out of control truck. So they're certainly looking at that as well.
It is interesting. I was just looking back, this reminded me of something of this story and it was just last month that the State Department issued a
warning to U.S. tourists to avoid outdoor markets here in Europe based on credible information stating that ISIS, al Qaeda, their affiliates continue
to plan terrorist attacks in Europe.
So these are the sort of things that intelligence agencies and the police will be looking at, at this point until we know why he was driving that
GORANI: All right, Max, as we continue to watch live images coming from that market in Berlin. We are seeing that truck. It's a big Lori, those
were prerecorded just minutes ago, but you're seeing the aftermath there of what is an attack at that German Christmas market. Nine people confirmed
dead, 50 at least injured.
Certainly something that many Germans will wonder what in fact happened, was there enough protection there if indeed it is an attack? Many people
feared after seeing what happened in France, Brussels, and other places that this could happen in Germany as well, Max.
FOSTER: Absolutely. I was recently at a briefing with the head of foreign intelligence here in the U.K. made it very clear that all the intelligence
agencies in Europe are working very closely together. He named Germany, France and they are sharing a lot of intelligence. That really happened in
a big way after the Paris attacks.
But first set of Paris attacks that I know that you reported on. So they are working very closely together. They put it into place after the sort
of instances and they will be working very closely together sharing intelligence to try to nail the motive here as quickly as possible.
Because of course if they're considering attacks, they will be looking at the possibility of follow up attacks and whether or not there was a wider
network. And we've learned, haven't we? That these first moments after an instant are absolutely vital before anything is confirmed to try to gather
much intelligence and give police a chance to get on the front foot in terms of their investigations.
GORANI: And Max, we were speaking with the deputy editor-in-chief of Berliner Morgenpost. In fact you can see their offices are very near that
Christmas market. You see the sign on the building behind the view of the truck. He has been describing bodies under the truck. He said he saw a
leg dangling from cab of the truck. I don't know what that means. I don't know if it was the driver. There is nobody right now inside the truck. So
is the driver on the loose? There are so many questions, Max.
FOSTER: There are and also one of the key things that we're trying to work out really, obviously these areas have vehicles on normally and then they
have the Christmas there so it will close down. So how far was this truck from the road that might indicate what sort of -- you know, how difficult
it was to reach that far and whether or not there was any level of motivation in it?
But we heard from an eyewitness saying there was no sign that the truck was slowing down. The driver could have been incapacitated in some way or it
could show some determination in driving towards that crowd.
But they managed to secure the area, clearly, but the focus on the casualties as the police try to lock down that area and find out what on
earth happened and if anyone left the truck and if anyone else is connected to this incident.
GORANI: All right, Max Foster, we'll stay in touch with you. Thanks very much. We're going to take a quick break. An update for our viewers, at
least nine dead, 50 injured when a truck plowed through a Christmas market in Central Berlin. We'll be right back.
[15:31:35] GORANI: Well, police say at least nine people are dead and at least 50 others injured after a truck plowed through a Christmas market in
Berlin. We now have video of the immediate aftermath. Of course, we must warn you that this is social media video of a disturbing scene.
This is the video we were running earlier. We weren't exactly clear what it was, but a witness tells CNN that there is no way this was an accident.
Police have not confirmed if they believe this was a terrorist attack. Police have not released any information yet about the driver.
It happened in a main square in Berlin where the famous Church of Remembrance is located. It's also near the Berlin Zoo if you're familiar
with the city. I'm joined now by Quentin Peel, an associate fellow at Chatham House and used to be a journalist in Berlin.
So we were just discussing there during the break, if this is an attack and it appears more and more likely that it's an attack, that this was, you
know, an attack on tourism, on young people, on the festive sort of Christmas season, the very symbol of Berlin.
QUENTIN PEEL, EUROPE PROGRAMME ASSOCIATE FELLOW, CHATHAM HOUSE: Absolutely, it's right in the heart of the Germany. It's in the heart of
old West Berlin right beside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and the zoo. This is a Christmas market that would attract particularly a lot of
PEEL: And they were there, you know, perhaps just buying Christmas decorations, or drinking gluhwein or eating a sausage, chatting away. And
it's difficult to get a truck into that area at time like this.
PEEL: So it certainly looks very deliberate to me.
GORANI: And it's what eyewitnesses were saying. You know, there are no streets leading to that square. There are no major thoroughfares leading
to that square. It's quite far removed from the main road. And in order to get a truck there, I mean, it's not like someone losing control of a
PEEL: No, it really does look like an attempt to do a rerun of Nice, absolutely deliberate attempt to target civilians, and also an element of
the Paris terrorism where young people were targeted in there. My daughter is in berlin at the moment with her boyfriend.
GORANI: You were able to speak with her?
PEEL: I was.
PEEL: And she wasn't there, thank goodness.
PEEL: But this is exactly what young people are going to Berlin for, to have fun, to chill out. It's the season of goodwill.
GORANI: And, of course, I mean, you know, there were fears after what happened in Paris, Brussels, and other places, that this specifically could
happen in Germany. There were also attacks that were foiled over the last several months. So close calls, so to speak. If this is an attack, it
looks as though it went, at least, according to plan there. That this individual was able to cause a lot of damage and kill a lot of people.
PEEL: I think what Nice taught us already in particular was that, if someone uses a truck as a weapon --
PEEL: -- there is practically nothing you can do to prevent this.
PEEL: We're wide open to that sort of attack, and it was an easy one to get away with. I don't think anybody is at fault for saying you just can't
stop this sort of thing. Just --
GORANI: So what do you do? I mean, what do you do? Do you live in fear 24/7 from now on because a terrorist might use a truck to plow into
GORANI: Do you put blast walls up around Christmas markets?
PEEL: The answer is no and no, you cannot.
PEEL: You continue to live normal as normal, but you rely on intelligence, intelligence, intelligence.
GORANI: Yes, but that creates a whole set of new problems.
[15:34:59] PEEL: It does. And in a country like Germany where people are terribly protective of their data privacy and so on, they hate the idea
that everything's going to be listened to and everybody's going to have to basically reveal all their private lives. There is not going to be much
And we're building up to a big election in Germany next year, in which the issue of refugees, of possibility that terrorists have come into the
country with the refugees is going to be exploited. And it's going to be used to try and attack Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, and to knock her out
GORANI: Well, certainly, this is going to become a political issue. Already, it had become a political issue before this, what we believe to be
an attack, even took place.
PEEL: Yes, absolutely. It was --
GORANI: Even by parties outside of Germany, in fact, because all they'll say is, they'll point at Germany and say, look at what happened there.
PEEL: Yes. I mean, I think that Angela Merkel is very powerful and very popular politician still to this day. But nonetheless, this is an issue.
She opened the doors in Germany. She said we're not going to put a cap on the number of refugees we take into this country, and that has caused a
backlash against her. And it's going to be a really tough campaign. So I think that this is just going to heighten the tension.
GORANI: Right, certainly. And by the way, I want to remind our viewers what they're seeing. This is cellphone video of the aftermath of that
attack. We were speaking with the "Morgenpost" Deputy Editor-in-Chief. He was telling us and you could tell he was very affected, very traumatized.
He said he could see people under the truck, injured or deceased. He didn't even want to describe the scene because he was that troubled by it.
And by the way, Quentin, we're not sure what happened with this driver.
GORANI: We know there is nobody in the truck, but we don't know if the driver's on the run, if he was neutralized, we have no information.
PEEL: Yes. And, of course, there is a very big Turkish origin population in Berlin. It's a very multicultural city, probably the most multicultural
city in the whole of Germany. It's one of its great attractions to visitors and to Berliners themselves. But it does mean that it's more open
to danger than other places.
GORANI: Right. But then the flip side of that argument is France didn't let that many refugees in, they got an attack. Brussels, similar
situation. So I mean, you can kind of see different factors that play in different countries. But I think what you can say with confidence is all
of these European countries are vulnerable.
PEEL: And it's not directly a consequence of the refugee flow. That so many of the terrorists that we've seen way back from 9/11 were actually
homegrown in the indigenous Muslim population, so Islamists growing out of second generation, third generation immigrants and being radicalized. So
it's not the refugee flow. It is the fact of our multicultural society.
GORANI: All right. Certainly, we're going to have a lot of opportunities to discuss all these points. Quentin Peel, thank you very much. We really
appreciate you joining us on this. Yet another shocking bit of breaking news for you, this time in Berlin at a Christmas market where police have
confirmed at least nine people were killed.
Shandana Durrani is in Berlin. She joins me the phone. Shandana, you were in the market when this truck drove through and plowed through the people
SHANDANA DURRANI, WITNESS TO THE BERLIN MARKET INCIDENT (through phone): Yes, I was.
GORANI: And what did you see, Shandana?
DURRANI: I was walking towards the exit. I was texting on my phone, and I saw the top of the truck coming towards the crowd through the market.
People started running, people started screaming. I think everybody thought that there was a terrorist attack or something like happening.
People dropped whatever they were carrying and ran for cover.
We didn't know what was going on. There were some pops, so we didn't know if there was a gun or anything like that. But it seemed like the truck
just jumped the curb and took a wrong turn and barreled through the crowd.
It was over very, very quickly but it was a very tense and scary situation. Being an American, I just moved to Berlin a few months ago, so this is kind
of a new thing for me, but yes, I was scared.
GORANI: So did you actually see the truck plow into the market?
DURRANI: Yes, I saw the truck plow through the market, and it took down at least three or four stalls. And it hit a lot of people. I think some
people were trapped underneath the truck. Yes, it was not a pretty sight.
GORANI: Sorry you had to see that. How far away were you from the actual vehicle?
DURRANI: I was probably about 20 feet away when it happened. It happened really fast. I saw it coming. People started screaming and running
towards me, which is all sort of running in the other direction. There was really no place to take cover other than hiding behind other stalls that
were in the market. It was a bit of a crazy situation.
[15:40:01] But, you know, it happened very quickly and the police came and the fire trucks came, and they sort of cordoned off the area and pushed
people away. Even the gawkers, they were sort of swept to the side. And it happened pretty quickly and some of the music started going on again in
other parts of the market as if nothing happened.
DURRANI: But, yes, it was not fun. Christmas is a nice, fun time, and it was not a fun time.
GORANI: I have to say, you're remarkably composed for someone who just witnessed this. What was it like after the vehicle eventually stopped? I
mean, what were you seeing from where you were?
DURRANI: From where I was, all I saw is one of the stalls was completely crushed. People were crying. There was a man holding his head. There
were some people on the ground. I couldn't really see how bad their injuries were. I didn't really want to see how bad their injuries were
because I don't think people need to see that.
The, you know, first responders need to be there and take care of the people, and the Berlin police and the fire department were very, very good
at keeping people away from that, onlookers and gawkers. And there were a lot of onlookers and gawkers. People were pretty shaken up, but they're
resilient here. So yes, it was not a fun sight. You know, just you start thinking of, you know, other things that have happened around the world,
and you know, you don't really want to think the worst. And obviously, there's a lot of people dead and that's really, really terrible.
GORANI: But you, your friends, the people you were with, all accounted for and OK, Shandana?
DURRANI: Yes, everybody is fine, everybody is fine. I mean, I was texting on my phone, and I think because I stopped I was too busy texting, that
that sort of helped me get away fast enough. I mean, I was only 20 feet away, but you know, I could have been one of the people injured. Luckily,
I wasn't. So I guess there's something to be said for texting.
GORANI: All right. Well, Shandana Durrani, thanks very much there for joining us. An eyewitness at the Christmas. She saw the truck plow
through that market. She saw people on the ground, three or fall stalls crushed. She was just a few meters away.
I want to also tell you that Reuters is reporting that the driver of the truck has arrested. This is according to Reuters. Police confirmed just
minutes ago at least nine people dead, 50 injured in that incident at the Christmas market in Berlin. And Reuters is also quoting the police as
saying they believe this was an attack, that they are treating this as an attack.
We'll have a lot more on what's happening in Berlin in a few minutes, but I also want to bring you up to date on another breaking news story, this one
out of Ankara. Turkey has now identified the gunman responsible for the assassination of Russia's Ambassador to Turkey. They're saying it was, in
fact, an off duty police officer who carried out the attack.
Ambassador Andrey Karlov was shot at an art gallery in front of horrified onlookers. The entire thing captured on video. And we warn you, it's
disturbing. We're not showing the actual moment of the shooting, only a bit of the immediate aftermath. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in foreign language).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, the gunman there is yelling, "Allahu Akbar." You may have heard that in Turkish. He's saying, "Do not forget Aleppo. Do not forget
Syria." Turkish media say the attacker has been neutralized. They did not give any details. Both Russia and Turkey are calling the shooting a,
quote, "terror attack."
Let's get the very latest. CNN Senior Correspondent Clarissa Ward is in Moscow with more reaction from Russia. Clarissa?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. This couldn't come at a more awkward time, Hala. The Turkish foreign
minister is here in Moscow for a major summit planned tomorrow with the Russian foreign minister and also with the Iranian foreign minister to talk
about the conflict in Syria.
And, of course, the Turkish and the Russians have been working very closely together to broker the ceasefire in Aleppo that we just saw today, you
know, taking hold in order to get some of those people evacuated out of eastern. So this is a very crucial, very sensitive time for Turkey and
Russia who have not always had the best relationship, but it had been much better in the past six months.
[15:44:57] Now, we have just heard very recently in the last hour from President Putin. He described the attack as a provocation aimed at
undermining the normalization of Russia-Turkish relations and also undermining the peace process in Syria. He's also went on to say the only
response we should offer to this murder is stepping up our fight against terror.
That will be received by many people as a possible indication that, so far, the Kremlin is not planning to escalate this situation any further, that
they are accepting the fact that, you know, Turkish authorities are doing everything they can to get to the bottom of this. We know President
Erdogan has said similar things that we heard from President Putin. He has said that a major investigation is under way.
And I think what the Russians will really want to know, Hala, OK, we understand now that this man was clearly motivated by some kind of rage
about what was happening in Syria, but then the question becomes, was he part of a larger cell? How long was this attack planner for? Did anybody
in Turkish intelligence have any previous knowledge that any kind of an attack on Russian diplomatic personnel was being planned? Was ISIS or some
other militant group of its ilk involved in some way?
So there are a lot of questions that the Russians will want to get to the bottom of. We know that they have sent a team to Ankara to take place --
to take part, rather, in that investigation. But for the moment, it does appear that President Erdogan of Turkey and President Putin of Russia are
both trying to sort of pull everyone back from the brink.
That's not the case with everybody. We have seen people on social media especially here in Russia, some pro-Kremlin lawmakers, one in particular,
Aleksey Pushkov, is blaming the media. He is saying that the media has riled people up about what is happening in Aleppo, has essentially incited
people to this kind of violence. But what we're hearing from the Kremlin is a distinctly calmer approach than that.
And as you heard it from President Putin essentially saying, cooler heads must prevail here. We must focus in the war on terror and the, you know,
desire and cooperating together to try to implement some kind of a peace agreement in Syria, Hala.
GORANI: All right. Clarissa Ward, thanks very much, in Moscow there with the very latest on that murder of the Russian Ambassador to Ankara by a
man, authorities say, is a police officer, off duty police officer.
Bringing you more details on our breaking news out of Berlin, police say at least nine people are dead and at least 50 others injured after a truck
plowed through a Christmas market in Berlin. Police have not confirmed if they believe this was a terrorist attack, but they say they have arrested
the suspected truck driver. And Reuters is quoting the police as saying they're operating on the assumption it was an attack.
This is all happened in a main square in Berlin where the famous Church of Remembrance is located. Also, if you know the city, this is not far from
where the Berlin Zoo is located. It's a major tourist attraction. It's a beautiful Christmas market and many people gather there to drink hot wine,
buy Christmas presents and decorations and really just normally a festive atmosphere that turned certainly horrific today.
Now, back to what happened at the Christmas market, let's get back to our CNN Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen. He is on the scene
in Berlin. What can you tell us, Fred?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Hala. Yes, I've just actually spoken to a woman that was also an eyewitness of what
happened. She said that she also saw he truck plow through this Christmas market. She also said that when the truck, once it came to a stop after --
she also said that it had plowed there several market stalls.
She did see that the windshield of the truck was apparently badly damaged. She said that there were a lot of items stuck. She said that the truck had
apparently hit a Christmas tree and knocked that over, and there was stuff stuck in the windshield but that there was also a big hole in the
windshield as well.
She wasn't sure whether anyone had fired on the truck or where those holes came from, but she also described that there was just massive damage that
the truck did before finally coming to a stop. And she also couldn't confirm whether or not anybody had been arrested on the scene. But, of
course, as you know, that Reuters reporting that they say that there is apparently a person in custody. We'll wait and see if that actually
But there certainly is still a gigantic police operation, of course, going on here. And also, more and more EMS personnel coming in, ambulances
coming in, the fire department coming in. I mean, they're certainly treating this as a mass casualty event. You know, I've been at some of
these before with German authorities. You can tell by the way that they're operating here, by the hand signals they're giving that they are treating
it as a very, very big mass casualty event here right in the center of Berlin.
GORANI: So, Fred, ambulances are still driving toward the square. I mean, in other words, people are still in need of medical assistance in the
square. Not everyone has been evacuated to hospitals and other medical facilities?
[15:50:06] PLEITGEN: And you know, that's exactly the impression that I'm getting because I'm seeing ambulances still going towards the square. Some
of them, also, you can see their doors are open, and they seem to be treating people inside. But there are also some that are rushing off,
though would think that all the hospitals here in the immediate vicinity -- and there are a couple right here close to here -- they obviously would be
on standby with calling all their doctors.
But it certainly seems as though people are still being treated. People are still being rushed off to hospitals. And we have to keep in mind, this
happened about an hour and a half ago, so it could very well still be the case that there are still folks out there who might not be the most
severely wounded, the most severely injured, who might have not been evacuated from the square just yet.
But, yes, absolutely, there are still a lot of coming and going here of these emergency personnel and also a lot more also coming. I mean you're
seeing tactical vehicles coming on, sort of headquarter vehicles coming in, communications vehicles coming in. This is certainly a gigantic now.
GORANI: And we understand, at least according to Reuters' reports, that the driver of this truck has been apprehended, and the German Chancellor,
Angela Merkel, would be getting briefings right now. Certainly, I mean, she's going to have to respond to this because this has been a concern and
a fear for quite some time here in Germany.
PLEITGEN: Yes, it certainly has. And I think that she definitely will be highly pressured to respond. I'm pretty sure that there is going to a
statement by Angela Merkel at some point tonight. I don't she'd wait until tomorrow morning. But, yes, I mean, you would think that the German
government would feel under a lot of pressure to act.
And, you know, she has said in the past that she understands people's fears because this is something that people -- exactly this kind of incident that
people have been fearing for a very long time. And I think that many people here in Germany have felt that this is something that may have been
-- I wouldn't say in the works, but that they've seen coming, and there were some smaller attacks that obviously didn't cause nearly as much
carnage as this one.
And I think that the Germans really felt that, in the past for multiples reasons, they've gotten lucky, where someone detonated a suicide vest that
didn't properly work or people got caught in the last moment. And now this seems to be at a time that an incident like this really caused massive
carnage here right in the center of the German capital and right in one of the most iconic places in the center of the German capital.
GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Fred Pleitgen. We'll stay in close touch with you. A short time ago we spoke to an eyewitness to the
incident, Emma Rushton. This is what she described.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMA RUSHTON, WITNESS TO THE BERLIN MARKET INCIDENT (through phone): So we were wondering -- it's the first day in Berlin for me, never been before.
We went down to the Christmas market, we're enjoying the Christmas lights and some mulled wine and we were sat. And I broke my leg a few years ago,
so I have to sit for a little bit longer than you would normally. And as we were sat, we were ready to get up when we heard a bang. And we started
to see, to our left, the Christmas lights were being torn down and then we started to see the top of an articulated truck, a lorry, just crashing
through the stalls and through people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: There you have it. Emma Rushton, a British tourist in Berlin describing what she saw in the immediate aftermath. Max Foster is in
London. He's been following the story as well alongside our team of reporters in Germany.
Max, we have not been able to confirm with police that this is an attack, but it's looking more and more, based on, you know, all the pieces of the
puzzle we're able to put together and reports that initially police have said this is looking like an attack, that it seems entirely deliberate.
MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All of the other incidents like this we've had in Europe recently that I can remember weren't terror attacks, were
caused by a driver of a vehicle passing out or having a heart attack or some way being incapacitated. This line that we've got in the last few
minutes suggesting that the driver is the suspect and he's been arrested, or she, suggests that the driver wasn't incapacitated. So certainly, all
lines of investigation will be looking towards a major security incident.
And we've just heard, actually, Hala, that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has just been briefed by the Interior Minister, and the Berlin
there, which just shows the scale of concern here, going to the head of state getting a briefing. That wouldn't happen if this didn't have a wider
concern relating to it.
GORANI: And German police -- I want to update our viewers on what they're saying on Twitter -- they're telling Berliners, stay at home this evening.
GORANI: So they must be concerned that perhaps there might be copycat incidents or attacks. I mean, clearly, they're telling Berliners during
this festive season where you would normally encourage people to go out and enjoy the Christmas spirit, don't leave your homes.
[15:55:05] FOSTER: And exactly the same thing happened in Paris on that second set of attacks around the Bataclan. They told everyone to stay
indoors. So this is a system that European security agencies put together, together, because they realize this is a continental threat, and they're
coordinating in similar ways. So if France has done that and Germany is doing that, then it certainly does indicate that.
And the fact they haven't dismissed terror as the motive here is also significant because the other thing that they do in these instances is try
to discount it as early as possible so as not to raise concern when it's unnecessary.
GORANI: Max, thanks very much. We'll get back to Max Foster with more on this breaking news story out of Germany. I'm joined again by Quentin Peel.
He is from Chatham House. He used to be a journalist in Berlin. I imagine Angela Merkel is getting all the briefings she needs to be getting right
now, and she's going to have to say something this evening.
PEEL: Yes, I'm sure she will.
PEEL: And she will be very much saying, don't panic, be calm, we're doing everything we can to control the situation. I think, at the same time,
what I would expect very swiftly in Germany is a statement from whether the Turkish community or somebody representing the Muslim community in Germany,
expressing horror at the incident and actually a real closing of ranks.
GORANI: Well, we don't know yet who the suspect is, so we'll have to wait for that.
GORANI: In fact, the police had just -- I mean, we don't know if it would be too early to say with confidence, haven't really confirmed that they
believe this is an attack. We're hearing sources quoted by Reuters, for instance, but it really is all pointing in that direction.
PEEL: If it is.
PEEL: I think that that's what one would expect. The point I would like to make is that, unlike Britain and France who have been directly engaged
in aggressive actions in the Middle East and so on, in Libya in that case and Britain, of course, in Iraq, here was Germany who's always been really
reticent at getting involved with any sort of direct military engagement but nonetheless being in the front line.
GORANI: If, indeed, this is related to the refugee crisis, in other words, if attackers were able to slip through with the flow of refugees. I mean,
yet again, the notion that what happens in Syria is contained to that region, it's had a domino effect now for years potentially. I mean,
certainly the attacks in Paris where we know some of the master minds and attackers slipped through with the refugees, all of this is interconnected.
PEEL: Yes. Absolutely. And every time, for example, we've seen ISIS under pressure in Syria, there is an external attack because the war goes
outside the country when they're under pressure inside the country. We've seen a major setback in Aleppo, and suddenly we get a big attack like that.
GORANI: And intelligence officers in this country, in the U.K., have said, the more they're under pressure in Syria and Iraq, the more likely it is
that we might see incidents here.
PEEL: Absolutely. And I think there's incidents that are homegrown, they're coming out of the community here. This is a huge challenge for all
the intelligence agencies. They actually have done, I think, a remarkable job perhaps to contain it as well as they have so far.
GORANI: All right. I understand there, my producers informing me, that the police are treating this or investigating this as terrorism. So this
is something that was looking more and more obvious as we sort of reported on this and put all the pieces of this story together.
Thank you very much, Quentin Peel of Chatham House. We appreciate your analysis on this tragic day for Berliners, for Germany as well. Police
treating an incident at the Christmas market in Berlin as a terrorist incident. We understand nine people have been killed, at least, and at
least 50 people injured when a truck plowed into that Christmas market in West Berlin.
We have eyewitnesses telling us that stalls were crushed, that people were dragged under the truck, that it appeared that as though people were killed
still under that truck, according to some of those witnesses, and others severely injured. And our Fred Pleitgen also telling us that ambulances
were still heading to the scene, which means that more people there are in need of medical attention.
This is something that's going to certainly rattle all Germans. We are waiting to see if the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, addresses her
citizens this evening. She, certainly, will be under pressure to do so. It is now almost 10:00 p.m. in Berlin. Nine people killed, at least 50
Now that truck, and you saw some of those images in that aftermath video, a big giant truck with blue siding, certainly an impossibility, according to
witnesses, that this was an accident. Deliberately crossed into the square, plowing into the market with what looks like the deliberate
intention of causing carnage and death and destruction.
[16:00:03] Here, you see police.