What we know about the attacks in Germany and Turkey

JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s been a day of horror in the capital cities of Germany and Turkey.

First Berlin, where a truck drove into a crowd of Christmas shoppers, leaving the street full of dead and wounded.

We get more now from Ira Spitzer. He’s the Berlin bureau chief for Feature Story News.

And a warning: Some images might be disturbing to some viewers.

Let me start, Ira Spitzer, with this comment we just saw crossing the wires. And that is the German interior minister saying that more information now does seem to point to an act of terrorism. What do you know?

IRA SPITZER, Feature Story News: Well, the Berlin police have confirmed that nine people have been killed in the scene of violence earlier in Berlin, and one of those — one of the dead was a passenger in that truck.

In addition to the nine people who died, at least 50 others are injured, some seriously. So, the — as you mentioned there, the German interior minister saying that there are signs here that point to a terror attack. No one has come out and explicitly said that this was intentional, but we also heard from — the White House issued a statement not long ago, and they also referenced that this was possibly a terror attack.

So, investigations are ongoing here in Berlin, trying to uncover what happened, but an important piece of information here, the driver, the suspected driver of the truck has been taken into custody. So much, of course, will hinge on who that person is and what they are able to uncover from him.

But, at the moment, police have asked people to stay off the streets in Berlin. There is an ongoing rescue operation that’s happened at a Christmas market right near the heart of Berlin, so a tragic situation unfolding right now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ira Spitzer, tell us a little bit more about where this happened. You describe it as a Christmas market. What exactly was the location, the situation?

IRA SPITZER: So, this happened in the district of Charlottenburg, right near the Gedachtniskirche, which is a famous landmark here in Berlin.

It is a church where they have not repaired the steeple from World War II, so it’s visited by many tourists throughout the course of the year, and this Christmas market is someplace where thousands of people congregate in the month leading up to the holidays here.

People go there with their families. They eat, drink, do Christmas shopping. So, Christmas markets are a very big tradition in Germany, a much loved tradition in Germany. And there also has been a lot of speculation in the past few months that perhaps a Christmas market could be the target of a terror attack.

So they have stepped up security across the board. However, at these open spaces like this, it is, of course, very difficult to predict and then to prevent an attack from taking place.

Now, again, we don’t know a hundred percent that this was an intentional act. However, the authorities are certainly treating it as such right now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ira Spitzer watching this unfolding story in Berlin for us, thank you very much.

And, meantime, hours before that Berlin incident, the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated by a lone gunman in Ankara. Andrey Karlov was addressing an art exhibition when a Turkish policeman in civilian clothes opened fire.

He shouted slogans about Syria, where Russia’s military is heavily involved. The gunman later died in a shoot-out with police. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack.