Germany admits mistakes 5 years after Berlin bombing

VIENNA – Five years after a terrorist attack killed 12 people at a Berlin Christmas market, the German president admitted on Sunday that the government had failed in its duty to protect its citizens that day.

“We have to admit that the state has not been able to keep its promises of protection, security and freedom,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, adding that the years since the attack have shown that mistakes had been made by German officials.

Steinmeier’s comments came on Sunday evening during a commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attack on Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz.

On December 19, 2016, an Islamist terrorist smashed crowds of Christmas market visitors in a large truck, killing 12 people and injuring dozens more in the German capital. The attacker was killed a few days later in a shootout in Italy.

The attack “left a deep fracture … in all of our hearts,” said Steinmeier, adding that it “was aimed at our way of life: in peace, in freedom and in democracy”.

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In the years following the attack, the German government has come under fire for its handling of Anis Amri, a failed Tunisian asylum seeker who carried out the attack. An investigation in 2017 revealed that Amri could have been detained and possibly deported months before the attack.

Going forward, Steinmeier said Germany “has a duty to correct the mistakes, failures and problems that have prevented this attack from being prevented”.

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