President Marcelo condemns “barbaric attack” on Berlin’s Christmas market

Calling yesterday’s massacre at a Christmas market in Berlin a “barbaric attack”, Portugal’s no-nonsense president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has offered the German people “total solidarity” at what he called “this difficult moment”.

In a day when two horrific events assailed news services, other political leaders referred to the carnage in Breitscheidplatz as a “tragedy” – eliciting a wave of criticism over social media as commentators claimed this was far too glib: “the world is under attack”, said one, “but no one seems prepared to say it”.

Marcelo at least used the right description – backed by nationals living in Germany who say they have been avoiding Christmas markets “for the last two years”, specifically because of the threat of terrorist attacks.

Rádio Renascença covered the views of Nelson Carvalheiro, “one of the 3500 Portuguese living in Berlin” who stressed what pundits are now openly admitting: “the Christmas markets in Berlin are always an attractive target for terrorist attacks because they are full of people”.

Carvalheiro said that he and his family “had the idea that something could happen, and decided not to go. We thank God for our having made this decision”, he told RR.

Meantime, the secretary of State for Portuguese Communities is “following the case”, saying that “up until this moment” there have been no reports of any Portuguese national among the 12 dead or around 50 injured.

The young Pakistani man arrested following the attack has denied any involvement – leading German police to admit they may be holding “the wrong man”.

German newspaper Die Welt suggests the real perpetrator “could still be at large, capable of other atrocities and armed”.

Hours before the attack, Turkey was rocked by the assassination of the German ambassador, ostensibly by a Turkish policeman who shouted “Allahu Akbar” before he was shot dead, and in the same afternoon in Zurich three people were shot by a gunman dressed in black who stormed the prayer hall of a mosque frequented by Somali immigrants. The body of the gunman has since been discovered not far from the mosque.

Joining up the dots, the Portuguese government has “lamented” the bloodshed around Europe, saying it is time for a “global response to combat terrorism”.

Talking to Lusa news agency, minister for foreign affairs Augusto Santos Silva said Monday was “yet another day in which we should have the certainty that a global response for combating terrorism and the profound causes that lead to it must be found”.

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