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SA government condemns global terror attacks

President Jacob Zuma says acts of violence & extremism have no place in society, and constitute a threat to peace & security.

Police walk before the truck that had sped into a Christmas market in Berlin, on 19 December, 2016, killing at least 12 people and injuring dozens more. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG – President Jacob Zuma says the South African government condemns in the strongest terms terrorist attacks in any form.

He was reacting to the attack in Germany where 12 people were killed and over 50 others injured after a cargo truck ploughed through a crowd at a Christmas market in Berlin on Monday.

He has also condemned the attack on worshipers in Zurich on Monday night where a gunman stormed into a mosque and opened fire, wounding three people before fleeing.

Zuma says acts of violence and extremism have no place in society and constitute a threat to peace and security.

The International Relations Department's Clayson Monyela says, “The South African government condemns, in the strongest terms, these terrorists attacks and we believe that terrorism in any form or whichever quarter it comes from can’t be condoned."

He says, “We’d also like to reiterate that South Africa will continue to form part of international effort to get rid and rid the scourge of terrorism from our society.”

BERLIN: SUSPECTED DRIVER RELEASED

German authorities on Tuesday released a Pakistani asylum-seeker suspected of driving a truck into a Berlin Christmas market and killing 12 people due to a lack of evidence and the interior minister said the real perpetrator may still be on the run.

Islamic State claimed responsibility the attack, saying the perpetrator was a “soldier” of the militant group.

“He executed the operation in response to calls to target nationals of the coalition countries,” its AMAQ news agency said.

But Germany’s interior minister said that despite the claim, investigators were following various leads.

“We just heard about the supposed claim of responsibility by this so-called Islamic State that is in fact a gang of terrorists,” Minister Thomas de Maiziere told ARD broadcaster. “There are several leads that investigators are following now.”

The Chief Federal Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement it had been unable to prove that the suspect had been in the cabin of the truck at the time of the attack and said he had denied any involvement.

Earlier, Die Welt newspaper quoted an unnamed police chief as saying: “We have the wrong man. And therefore a new situation. The true perpetrator is still armed, at large and can cause fresh damage.”

Commenting on the suspect’s release, de Maiziere told ZDF television: “That’s why it is true that one cannot rule out that the perpetrator is still at large.”

He said there was no doubt the Berlin incident had been an attack but the motive remained unclear. He also said it was not yet known how many foreigners were among the victims of the attack but no children had been among the dead.

News of the arrest of the 23-year-old Pakistani had led politicians in Germany and beyond to demand a crackdown on immigration, but Chancellor Angela Merkel urged caution.

“There is much we still do not know with sufficient certainty but we must, as things stand now, assume it was a terrorist attack,” she told reporters earlier on Tuesday.

“I know it would be especially hard for us all to bear if it were confirmed that the person who committed this act was someone who sought protection and asylum,” she said.

Additional information by Reuters.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)