Anis Amri, the man believed to be behind the Christmas market in Berlin was killed in a shootout in Milan, Italy's Interior Minister Marco Minniti said at a press conference in Rome.
Italy's Interior Minister Marco Minniti said during a press conference that Anis Amri was stopped on foot by police patrols at around 3 a.m. during a routine check in the Sesto San Giovanni neighborhood.
A body lies on the ground shortly after the shoot-out in Milan
The location of the shootout outside the Sesto San Giovanni train station is shown in the BBC map below:
Italian police say that when stopped, Amri - who was walking by himself after arriving from France - pulled a 22 caliber gun from his backpack, shouted "God is greatest" in Arabic and opened fire, injuring an officer. A second policeman with only nine months' service returned fire, killing him, they add.
"Without any doubt the person killed is Anis Amri, the man suspected in the Berlin terrorist attack," Minniti said.
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) December 23, 2016
Taking a sideways jab at Merkel and her inability to capture Amri, Minniti praised the officers involved, saying: "As soon as this person entered our country he was the most wanted man in Europe and we immediately identified him and neutralised him and this means our security is working really well."
One police officer was injured, but his injuries are not life-threatening, according to tweets from the police.
Below is a scene from Milan following Amri's deadly shootout with police:
German newspapers have been quick to report the news about the killing of Ansi Amri with a sense of relief. The country's biggest newspaper Bild is leading on it's website with the headline: Es ist Vorbei! (It's over!) People in Germany had been living with the fear that the suspect in the Berlin attack was still at large and could strike again. Over the days following the attack, Christmas markets in the centre of the city have been free of the large crowds that usually gather throughout the festive season.
Earlier on Friday, Italian authorities said Amri was killed in a shootout with police in Milan on Thursday night. A short video posted on the website of Italian magazine Panorama suggested the shooting happened before dawn, with police gathered around a cordoned-off area in the dark.
— rbb|24 (@rbb24) December 22, 2016
As some commentators note, before being shot dead, Anis Amri left Berlin for France, and then Milan, having started in Italy, which may sound the death knell for EU freedom of movement.
Before being shot dead, Anis Amri left #Berlin for France, and then Milan - having started in Italy. Death knell for EU freedom of movement.
— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) December 23, 2016
Conflicting news reports previously suggested the opposite. The German Police claimed that the suspect was hiding in Berlin. On Thursday, RBB released CCTV footage showing him at a local mosque one day after the attack. The police said Amri was injured, and therefore would not risk travelling too far.
German federal police had issued a rare international wanted notice for Mr. Amri—who arrived in Germany last year after time in an Italian prison—and offered a €100,000 ($104,000) reward, warning that he could be armed and dangerous. German authorities have come under criticism over accusations they failed to stop Mr. Amri, a 24-year-old asylum seeker, despite being aware of his radicalization.
As the WSJ adds, since the Monday attack, German security and judicial officials have said they had known about the potential risks he posed for about a year, had put him under surveillance and even detained him briefly, but failed to deport him and later lost track of him. The extent of authorities’ prior knowledge and growing concern about the danger Mr. Amri posed was made even more apparent on Thursday when a senior U.S. official said Germany had notified the U.S. about him. U.S. authorities then added his name to a terrorism watch list.
German officials in November provided more information and U.S. officials decided to put Mr. Amri’s name on a no-fly list, an indication that they believed he posed a more significant threat than they previously thought, the official said.
With Amri's permanent silencing, any chance of a prompt discovery what the alleged killer's motives and connections, has been taken away.
* * *
Italy's Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni has told a news conference that he called German Chancellor Angela Merkel to tell her that Anis Amri had been killed. Mr Gentiloni said it underlined the importance of increased collaboration at national and international levels. Mrs Merkel's spokeswoman earlier declined to comment until written confirmation had arrived from Rome.
A German government spokeswoman says Chancellor Angela Merkel will speak by phone to the Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi later on Friday. The deportation of rejected asylum seekers will be discussed, Reuters reports. Tunisian-born Amri was facing deportation in June this year, but remained in Germany because of a delay in receiving paperwork from Tunisia.
Berlin police have thanked their Italian colleagues over Twitter, writing first in Italian and then following in German with: "Thank you for the support and get well soon to the injured colleague".
— Polizei Berlin (@polizeiberlin) December 23, 2016
How did Amri get to Italy after the attack? Railway tickets found on Amri's body showed he had travelled from Chambery in south-eastern France to Turin and then on to Milan, Italy's Ansa news agency says. Police had stepped up patrols in Milan following a tip off that Amri might be in the area, judicial sources quoted by Reuters say.
Amri's ability to make such a journey undetected across multiple countries is bound to raise questions about security failures in Europe and whether open borders within the Schengen area are allowing extremists to move about freely.
German interior minister said that: 'We are relieved this person doesn't pose a threat anymore.' German Interior Ministry spokesman Tobias Plate has voiced his department's relief that the suspect in the Berlin Christmas market truck attack appears to have been killed in Italy. After Italy's interior minister, Marco Minniti, said Anis Amri had been shot in an early-hours shootout in Milan, Plate said "should this turn out to be true then the Interior Ministry is relieved that this person doesn't pose a threat anymore."
Plate said Germany had not yet received official written notification from Italy but that a German police liaison office in Rome had been informed.
Foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said Berlin was "grateful to the Italian authorities for the very close cooperation based on trust". "Our colleagues at the consulate in Milan were informed in a very timely way," he told the same news briefing.
A spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ulrike Demmer, declined to comment until the written confirmation had arrived from Rome. "I ask you for a bit of patience," she said.
* * *
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner has told the News Channel that the encounter with Anis Amri was "probably more than luck". "Italy was on alert for this guy, he had spent four years in Italy mostly in jail, and he was known already to the Italian authorities," he said. "There was a degree of international co-operation here. "He probably made a mistake going back to Italy, he would have been probably trying to hide himself in the suburbs or indeed trying to get himself over to Syria. "It could have been luck but I suspect it was more of a tip-off."
* * *
The new Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni has praised the two young officers involved in the shoot-out. "Italy is proud of its security forces," he was quoted as saying by La Stampa website. "We're especially grateful to the young officer on probation Cristian Movio, who was wounded, and to his colleague Luca Scata. The officers demonstrated outstanding courage and professionalism."
* * *
The BBC reports that Anis Amri's mother has hit out at European authorities following the shooting of her son in Milan. “The security people in Italy and Germany are also partly responsible,” Nour El Houda Hassani said in an interview with German newspaper Deutsche Welle from her home in Tunisia.
"They had already caught him two or three times [before the Berlin attack]. Why did they not send him back to Tunisia? Why was he not sentenced? Why was he not arrested?"
She added: “It hurts so much. How could such a thing happen? I feel so bad for the innocents and also for my son."
* * *
The Polizia di Stato have tweeted a picture of injured officer Cristian Movio's uniform with a bullet hole:
Il foro del proiettile sulla divisa del poliziotto ferito nel conflitto a fuoco con Anis Amri. Lo stanno operando adesso ma non è grave pic.twitter.com/8DOLsKml4y
— Polizia di Stato (@poliziadistato) December 23, 2016
* * *
The investigation will go on: German federal public prosecutor Peter Frank says that although Berlin attack suspect Anis Amri was shot this morning, the investigation will continue. Authorities are still trying to determine whether Amri had any accomplices.
"For us it’s important to know whether the person being sought had a network of support or help in preparing and carrying out the attack and also when he fled, whether there were others that knew or gave him help. "That is now of central importance for us, also to understand his escape route."
He added that the office would remain in contact with Italian authorities.
* * *
Italian police had no idea Amri was in Italy. The Milan policemen who shot dead the suspect in the Berlin Christmas market truck attack were carrying out a routine patrol and had no information that he was in Milan, the city's police chief says.
The suspect, Tunisian Anis Amri, was shot at around 3 am (0200 GMT) by two officers who spotted him standing near a train station in a Milan suburb.
"We had no intelligence that he could be in Milan," police chief Antonio De Iesu said at a news conference. "They had no perception that it could be him otherwise they would have been much more cautious."
* * *
Amri 'was a ghost, he didn't leave a trace' said the Italian police. Milan authorities said Amri was carrying few personal belongings, had no cell phone and no other arms apart from a small knife in his backpack. He had several hundred euros but no documents.
"He was a ghost, he didn't leave a trace," said Milan police chief Antonio De Iesu. Questions are now being asked about whether he was meeting someone.
* * *
Angela Merkel has given a statement after Italian police shot Berlin suspect Anis Amri. She said the attack in Berlin raised a lot of questions and Germany will take the necessary measures quickly to ensure better security. She has discussed with the Tunisian president the need to speed up deportations.
* * *
ISIS have released a video of Amri pledging allegiance to leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi apparently recorded before the attack.
In the video he claims the attack is vengeance for airstrikes against Muslims, and says he wishes to punish "pig-eaters" and become a martyr. Similar pledges of allegiance have been released by ISIS after several attacks this summer, including the attempt to blow up a music festival in Ansbach, Germany, the Normandy church attack and the train stabbing in Wurzburg, Germany.
* * *