Berlin attack suspect slain in shootout with Italian police
MILAN — A routine request for ID papers outside a deserted train station in a Milan suburb at 3 a.m. Friday led to a police shootout that killed the Tunisian fugitive wanted in the deadly Christmas market attack in Berlin.
While authorities expressed relief that the search for Anis Amri was over, his four-day run raised fresh questions about whether he had any accomplices and how Europe can stop extremists from moving freely across its open borders, even amid an intense manhunt.
Italian police said Amri traveled from Germany through France and into Italy after Monday night’s truck rampage in Berlin, and at least some of his journey was by rail. French officials refused to comment on his passage through France, which has increased surveillance on trains after recent attacks in France and Germany.
Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni called for greater cross-border police cooperation, suggesting some dismay that Europe’s open frontier policy had enabled Amri to move around easily despite being its No. 1 fugitive.
Amri, whose fingerprints and wallet were found in the truck that plowed into Christmas market outside Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, killing 12 people and injuring 56 others, was caught seemingly by chance after eluding police for more than three days.
“He was a ghost,” Milan police chief Antoio de Iesu said, adding that Amri was stopped because of basic police work, intensified surveillance “and a little luck.”
Like other cities, Milan has been on heightened alert, with increased surveillance and police patrols. Italian officials stressed that the two young officers who stopped Amri didn’t suspect he was the Berlin attacker, but rather grew suspicious because he was a North African man, alone outside a deserted train station in the dead of night.
Amri, who had spent time in prison in Italy, was confronted by the officers in Sesto San Giovanni, a suburb of Milan. He pulled a gun from his backpack after being asked to show his ID and was killed in an ensuing shootout.
One of the officers, Christian Movio, 35, was shot in the right shoulder and had surgery for what doctors said was a superficial wound. His 29-year-old partner, Luca Scata, fatally shot Amri in the chest.
The suspect had no ID or cellphone and carried only a pocket knife and the loaded .22-caliber pistol he used to shoot Movio, police said. He was identified with the help of fingerprints supplied by Germany.