Merkel admits mistakes in the 2016 Christmas market attack

Merkel admits mistakes in the 2016 Christmas market attack
Candles and flowers are pictured at the memorial at the site of last year's truck attack on a Christmas market, which killed 12 people and injured many others, at Breitscheidplatz square in Berlin, Germany December 19, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
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By Riham Alkousaa

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany should learn from security shortcomings exposed by a deadly truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market a year ago and increase aid to survivors and families of victims, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.

Anis Amri, a failed Tunisian asylum seeker with Islamist links, hijacked a truck on Dec. 19, 2016, killed the driver and then ploughed it into a crowded market place, killing 11 more people and injuring dozens of others.

Merkel spoke on the anniversary of the attack at the unveiling of a memorial on the Breitscheidplatz plaza where it took place a year ago amid criticism from families of the victims and from survivors about the government’s handling of the incident.

“Today is a day for mourning but also a day for the determination of making things better that did not work (in the past),” Merkel said.

Merkel, who met victims and relatives of those killed at the chancellery on Monday, said she would meet the group again in a few months to provide updates on lessons learned from Germany’s worst Islamist militant attack.

The memorial shows the names of the victims carved on the steps of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church near the scene of the attack. A crack filled with metal and gold alloy runs through the steps and the Christmas market.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said support for the victims of the attack came late and had not been sufficient.

“It’s bitter that the state could not protect your relatives,” Steinmeier said addressing the families.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the government had not been well enough prepared to avert such an attack.

“We can only apologise for the victims and the surviving relatives,” Maas wrote in an article published in Tagesspiegel paper on Tuesday.

The German government has agreed to increase compensation payments to victims’ families and survivors after complaints that the 10,000 euros (8,857.91 pounds) compensation the German government had offered was insufficient, Kurt Beck, an advocate for victims and survivors said on Tuesday.

(Reporting By Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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