WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — International leaders reached out to two grieving nations on Monday following apparent attacks in Germany and Turkey that left at least nine civilians and an ambassador dead.
While billions of people prepare for holiday celebrations around the world, the tragedies threw the nations into chaos and millions of citizens into mourning.
The motivation for the attacks, or any connection to extremist groups, has yet to be firmly established, although the assassin in Turkey yelled “Allahu Akbar” after killing a diplomat in cold blood.
Berlin truck attack
A large truck plowed through a crowded Christmas market in Berlin in what police believe was a deliberate attack, leaving at least nine people dead and 50 others injured.
“Video footage from the scene shows stalls knocked over and people lying injured on the ground,” reported the BBC.
Germany has faced heightened tensions of late with the arrival of scores of Syrian refugees and a surge of political nationalism.
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci tweeted that he was “shocked over the Berlin attack” and hoped German citizens know “we are all with them tonight, praying for families of victims.”
“Freedom shall prevail,” Thaci declared.
The Berlin attack was reminiscent of a deadly July 2015 incident in which a man of Tunisian descent used a truck to drive through Bastille Day crowds in Nice, France, to kill 84 victims and injure 202 others.
Five similar attacks have been foiled in the French Riviera region in the year since, reports Yahoo.
Russian ambassador assassinated
Just hours before the Berlin attack, a Turkish police officer screamed “Allahu Akbar” as he assassinated Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at an art exhibit in Ankara.
“Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!” the man yelled, reported BuzzFeed. “Until they are safe, you will not taste safety! Go back, go back, only death will take me from here. All those who have taken part in this cruelty will pay one by one!”
The gunman appeared to be referencing Russia’s involvement in the ongoing Syrian civil war, in which it is allied with the government against rebel forces and has carried out extensive bombing campaigns that reportedly killed thousands of civilians.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responded on Twitter, saying America’s “thoughts are with his loved ones, Russian people, and other victims of this despicable act.”
The White House issued a statement through the National Security Council calling this a “heinous act” and reaffirming that “we stand united with Russia and Turkey.”
Not much is know about the attacker thus far.
The “Turkish police officer Mert Altinbas, who graduated from the police academy in 2014” pulled the trigger, reported The Wall Street Journal, but no firm connections to extremists groups have been established.
ISIS has instructed its adherents to launch attacks wherever they are, using whatever resources they have at their fingertips.
It could be a truck, a hammer, or a gun.
The risk of lone wolf attacks has soared as these self-radicalized extremists plot quietly before going on killing sprees using easily procured weapons, often hiding in plain sight.
Just prior to the holidays in December 2015, a husband and wife inspired by ISIS murdered 14 of the husband’s co-workers in San Bernardino, California, during their annual work Christmas party.
There are no indications as yet that Monday’s attacks in Germany and Turkey are related to the holidays, but global caution is heightened during this celebratory season, given extremists’ determination to inflict maximum pain in the most unexpected of places and moments.
Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales