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Memorial for Berlin Christmas truck attack

dpa logodpa 20/12/2016 By Esteban Engel and Nada Weigelt

A memorial service has been held at the site of a terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market which claimed 12 lives.

There have been calls for a determined stance against hatred and division at a memorial service at Berlin's Protestant Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the site of a terrorist attack which killed 12 people and injured dozens of others at a Christmas market.

"The power of reconciliation is stronger than hatred," Bishop Markus Droege told the congregation.

"We will not allow ourselves to be led into inhumanity by terror."

The church, with its steeple destroyed during World War II, was the centre of a Christmas market through which an as-of-yet unidentified driver ploughed a truck the previous evening.

Droege said the battle-scarred church was the right symbol for this dark day, adding that Berlin with its war ruins does not cover up or hide its wounds from the past or the present.

Among those attending the memorial were leading figures from the German government including President Joachim Gauck, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller plus high-ranking officials from the Protestant and Catholic churches, but also leaders from Jewish, Orthodox and Muslim communities.

The city's mayor called on Berlin to hold on to its multicultural togetherness: "We will not let cosmopolitan Berlin be taken by such a cowardly attack, by fear and terror," Mueller said.

Condolences have been expressed from outside Germany with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressing his condolences to Merkel by telephone, the Anadolu news agency reported.

Wellwishers have laid flowers and candles in makeshift memorials outside, including messages that read "you will not win our hatred" and "Terror must not win."

"I am so sad that that has happened here. It really upsets me all over again," a softly spoken French woman told dpa earlier in front of the church, referring to a similar attack in Nice in the summer.

The French parliament in Paris held a minute's silence on Tuesday for the victims, with National Assembly President Claude Bartolone recalling that a truck had also been used to kill 86 people during French National Day celebrations on July 14 in the Mediterranean resort of Nice.

Berlin police say one or more of the perpetrators may still be on the loose after admitting they were uncertain whether a 23-year-old Pakistani suspect taken into police custody and since released was the driver of the vehicle.

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