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Search for Berlin attack suspect intensifies as anger in Germany grows

German officials have come under fire after it emerged Anis Amri, a suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack, was known to police. His fingerprints were reportedly found in the truck that killed 12 people on Monday.
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The suspect’s fingerprints were found on the driver’s side door of the Polish-registered truck, German media reported on Thursday, according to Deutsche Welle.

The “Berliner Zeitung” newspaper also reported that traces of Amri’s fingerprints were uncovered on the truck’s steering wheel. If the reports are proven true, it would be the clearest evidence linking lead suspect Anis Amri to Monday’s attack.

Amri had also previously offered to act as a suicide bomber on known Islamist chat sites, German news magazine “Der Spiegel” reported on Thursday, citing security sources. German authorities listened in on the conversation while investigating so-called “hate preachers.” During the chat, Amri also reportedly talked about how he could obtain weapons.

At the time, authorities believed that Amri’s offers and statements were so encoded that they were not enough to detain him, “Der Spiegel” said.

Later on Thursday Chancellor Angela Merkel and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere met in the federal attorney general’s office to discuss the investigation. Afterwards, de Maizere told the press that the police had found more and more evidence pointing in Amri’s direction, and Merkel expressed her support for the hard work of all the different authorities involved.

In their search for Amri, police raided a refugee shelter early Thursday morning in Emmerich and apartments in Dortmund where the Berlin Christmas market attack suspect reportedly lived prior to moving to the German capital, authorities said.

While confirming that anti-terror operations in connection with the Berlin attack occurred, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office told DW no arrests took place. The spokesman added that operations have been conducted across Germany in the search for Amri.

In Berlin, the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz where the attack took place reopened to the public. Berlin police tweeted photos of the pedestrian area being secured with concrete blocks. Organizers decided to reopen the square without bright lights or party music out of respect for the victims.

The international manhunt for the prime suspect in Berlin’s deadly truck attack raised questions and public ire on Thursday, with many wondering how Anis Amri was able to avoid arrest and deportation despite being on the radar of German security agencies.

German officials revealed on Wednesday that they had already been investigating the 24-year-old Tunisian months before Monday’s rampage. Authorities even held him in a detention cell for a day and kept him under covert surveillance for six months before halting the operation.

ID papers believed to belong to Amri were found under the driver’s seat of a 40-ton truck that rammed through a crowded Christmas market in Berlin on Monday, killing 12 and wounding 48. Out of those injured, 14 remain in life-threatening condition.

One of Amri’s brothers expressed disbelief on hearing he was wanted and urged him to turn himself in on Thursday.

“I ask him to turn himself in to the police,” Abdelkader Amri told the Associated Press. In separate comments to news agency AFP, he said if Amri turned out to be involved, “he deserves every condemnation. We reject terrorism and terrorists – we have no dealings with terrorists.”