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At least 9 dead after truck plows into crowded Christmas market in Berlin

Police stand beside a damaged truck which ran into crowded Christmas market in Berliin Berlin, Germany, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn) (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

December 19, 2016

A truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin on Monday, killing at least nine and injuring more than 50 in what police believe was a deliberate attack, and one that was a chilling echo of the July incident in Nice in which 86 people were slain by a terrorist.

A large Scania truck rammed into the market outside the capital’s popular Christmas market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on Monday evening.

The man suspected to be the driver of the truck was arrested several hundred years from the scene and in being questions by police, police siad.

Police spokesman Winfried Wenzel told ZDF public television that the man was arrested near the scene.

No further details were immediately available.

Footage of the scene showed a large Scania truck with its windshield smashed out on the sidewalk alongside the market, with a swarm of ambulances nearby. A large Christmas tree with a gold star on top was toppled over nearby in the street.

Witness Mike Fox told The Associated Press at the scene that the large truck missed him by only about three meters as it drove into the market, tearing through tables and wooden stands.

“It was definitely deliberate,” said the tourist from Birmingham, England.

He said he helped people who appeared to have broken limbs, and that others were trapped under Christmas stands.

Police and rescue workers swarmed the scene after the incident blocking access to the market itself, and firetrucks and ambulances whizzed by.

In recent weeks, authorities in Europe warned that Christmas markets could be the target of terrorists’ attacks.

Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical analysis for global intelligence firm Stratfor, told FoxNews.com recently that Christmas markets during the month of December were easy targets for terrorists.

“It’s obvious that the threat will always remain,” he said, “but with the holidays and many of the Christmas markets that are normally set up this time of year, it proves to be a tempting soft target.”

Prosecutors in Ludwigshafen said a 17-year-old boy of Iraqi heritage attempted to blow up a device at the local Christmas market on November 26, the Local reported. The device failed to detonate and tried again on December 5.

The device was hidden in a rucksack filed with nails and placed in a bush near the town hall.

Prosecutors said a pedestrian spotted the bag and alerted police, who carried out a controlled explosion.

According to Focus magazine, the 12-year-old boy was born in Rhineland-Palatinate in 2004 and had encouraged to carry out the attack by an as-of-yet unknown member of ISIS.