A black tractor-trailer plowed into a crowded Christmas market in the heart of West Berlin killing 12 and injuring numerous others. This first large-scale terror attack to take place in Germany fueled the acrimonious debate between those who support the country’s decision to take in more than 1 million refugees, and those who do not. Two days before Christmas, on December 23, the 24-year-old Tunisian suspect in the killings was killed on the run by Italian police in Milan. German and European policing came in for sharp criticism after it was learned that the suspect, Anis Amri, remained at large in Italy and Germany for more than four years even after committing a series of petty crimes and being placed under surveillance as a suspected terrorist.
Summer Attacks Shock Germany, Shifts Mood
A spate of attacks within ten days in July rocked Germany, starting with an ax attack on a train in Würzburg. A 17-year old Afghan injured a Hong Kong family of tourists before he was shot by the police. The same week, a German-Iranian man shot and killed 9 people in a Munich mall, injuring 20. Days later, a Syrian refugee attacked and killed a woman with a machete, hurting two others. Later that day, a man from Syria blew himself up outside a music festival in Ansbach, a town near Nuremberg, killing himself and injuring 15. IS claimed responsibility for the Würzburg and Ansbach attacks. The violence heightened criticism of the open-door refugee policy of Chancellor Angela Merkel as she introduced tougher security measures.