Berlin truck attack suspect killed in Milan police shootout

Anis Amri
The wanted photo issued by German federal police on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016 shows 24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri who is suspected of being involved in the fatal attack on the Christmas market in Berlin on Dec. 19, 2016. The Tunisian man suspected of driving a truck into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin was killed early Friday Dec. 23, 2016 in a shootout with police in Milan, ending a Europe-wide manhunt, Italy's interior minister said.(German police via AP)

ROME (AP) — The Tunisian man suspected of driving a truck into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin was killed early Friday in a shootout with police in Milan, ending a Europe-wide manhunt, Italy’s interior minister said.

Checks conducted after the shootout showed “the person killed, without a shadow of a doubt, is Anis Amri, the suspect of the terrorist attack,” Interior Minister Marco Minniti said.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Monday attack in Berlin, which killed 12 and injured 56 others.

Amri, 24, who had spent time in prison in Italy, was stopped by two officers during a routine police check in the Sesto San Giovanni neighborhood of Milan early Friday. He pulled a gun from his backpack after being asked to show his identity papers and was killed in the ensuing shootout.

One of the officers was shot and is in the hospital, but his condition is not life-threatening, Minniti said. The other officer fatally shot Amri.

German authorities said they were still awaiting official confirmation that the person killed in Milan was Amri, but German Interior Ministry spokesman Tobias Plate said, “should this turn out to be true, then the Interior Ministry is relieved that this person doesn’t pose a threat anymore.”

It was unclear how and when Amri traveled from Berlin to Milan. German authorities issued a Europe-wide wanted notice for him on Wednesday, two days after the attack.

Authorities say Amri has used at least six different names and three nationalities in his travels around Europe.

He left Tunisia in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings and initially spent time in Italy.

He was repeatedly transferred among Sicilian prisons for bad conduct, with prison records saying he bullied inmates and tried to spark insurrections. He served 3 ½ years for setting a fire at a refugee center and making threats, among other things — but Italy apparently detected no signs that he was becoming radicalized.

German authorities had deemed Amri, who arrived in the country last year, a potential threat long before the attack this week — and even kept him under covert surveillance for six months this year.

They had been trying to deport him after his asylum application was rejected in July but were unable to do so because he lacked valid identity papers and Tunisia initially denied that he was a citizen.