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Truck Drives Through Crowded Christmas Market In Berlin

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

And now we're going to get the latest from Germany. Police in Berlin are reporting that a truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market. They say nine people have been killed and many more injured. I spoke with Anton Troianovski, a reporter with The Wall Street Journal, about what's known so far.

ANTON TROIANOVSKI: What we know at this point is that a semi - tractor-trailer barged into a Christmas market in the West Berlin neighborhood of Charlottenburg. Nine people are dead, the police say, and at least 50 people are injured. There's been a suspect who's believed to be the driver of the truck who has been arrested. The passenger in the truck, we understand, is dead.

SHAPIRO: Do we know anything about motive - whether this was a terrorist attack as many fear?

TROIANOVSKI: That's certainly the speculation right now. At this point, German authorities are not saying it was a terrorist attack. They're describing it as an incident that took place. It certainly was not a normal accident, and it obviously brings to mind the terrible attack in Nice on Bastille Day back in July when more than 80 people were killed in this kind of truck attack.

SHAPIRO: There have been warnings, governments cautioning people to avoid crowded places, particularly Christmas markets. Why might this be a particular target?

TROIANOVSKI: You know, these Christmas markets, as you may know and many listeners probably know, are commonplace all over Germany in big cities and in small towns. Many of them are set up in public squares that, you know, are very hard for the police to protect and are very vulnerable to attacks by people driving cars. And especially in the wake of the Nice attack, the fear of something happening at a Christmas market has been running through sort of German authorities.

SHAPIRO: Obviously Germany has wrestled with the threat of terrorism and occasional attacks over the years. How do you expect this will affect things, particularly in the Christmas season?

TROIANOVSKI: It's been a very stressful year for Germans. We had back in the summer a series of attacks, two of them claimed by Islamic State but neither of which actually killed any bystanders. There was an ax attack on a train and - as well as that mass shooting in Munich which was actually not in the end seen as a terrorist attack.

But this fear of terrorism has been running through in Germany all year, and tonight, you know, we're going to have to find out whether this was that big attack that a lot of people have been fearing.

SHAPIRO: Anton Troianovski of The Wall Street Journal speaking with us from Berlin, thanks very much.

TROIANOVSKI: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.