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At Least 9 Dead After Truck Drives Through Christmas Market In Berlin

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

And we're going to get the latest now from Berlin. A large truck slammed into a crowded Christmas market in the city this evening. According to police, at least nine people have been killed and many more injured. This took place in a popular shopping area in the western part of the city. Police say they have arrested a suspect near where it took place. I talk with Christoph Sydow, a reporter with Spiegel Online, and he described the scene.

CHRISTOPH SYDOW: It looks like a crime scene. The whole area is cordoned off. We can see the truck that has crashed over the Christmas market. You can still see the Christmas lights. You can see the church. The whole market was put around the church right in the center of Berlin. And there are many reporters around, and people are wondering what happened here.

SHAPIRO: Can you describe the truck?

SYDOW: The truck is, like, quite a huge one. It's dark blue or black, maybe 15 meters long and quite a huge truck. And people say that it has loaded (unintelligible), so it was quite a heavy vehicle.

SHAPIRO: What have you learned from the police officers you've spoken with?

SYDOW: They said that the truck - the street made a turn, but the truck just went ahead right over the Christmas market. He went over the Christmas market for about 50 meters. He took with him several small shops. He took with him several people. He ran over them. And at the moment, police are saying that nine people were killed, and 50 people are injured.

SHAPIRO: How much of a shock is this to Berlin? Obviously the threat of terrorism has been present for a long time.

SYDOW: Well, in some way, it's the moment everyone has been waiting for. I mean everybody was expecting something like this would happen sooner or later. Germany was involved in the war in Afghanistan. Germany is part of the anti-ISIS coalition. And there were several smaller terrorist attacks. There were terrorist attacks that were thwarted in the last minute.

So more or less people were expecting something like this to happen. But still at the moment, the city is a bit under shock. I think it will all sink in tomorrow because now it's late in the evening. People will try to find some sleep. But I think tomorrow people will grasp what really happened here.

SHAPIRO: It sounds like a very incongruous scene - Christmas lights, these little huts where people were shopping, the church in the background...

SYDOW: Exactly.

SHAPIRO: ...And then crime scene tape.

SYDOW: Exactly, yeah. It's a bit surreal. You - and there is still - just a few minutes ago, all the lights went out of the shops where people drank Gluhwein, which is like, you know, hot wine which is the specialty. All of our people are eating bratwurst. All of the shops are still here. But yeah, now this Christmas market which is quite popular amongst (unintelligible) there has become a crime scene.

SHAPIRO: Christoph Sydow of Spiegel Online, thank you for speaking with us.

SYDOW: Thank you.

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SHAPIRO: And here in Washington, the White House has issued a statement in response to the incident. National Security Council Spokesperson Ned Price said, quote, "the United States condemns in the strongest terms what appears to have been a terrorist attack." The statement goes on. "We stand together with Berlin in the fight against all those who target our way of life and threaten our societies."

We'll be following this story as we learn more. Stay with us online at npr.org, and tune in to your local NPR station. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.