Trump vows to wipe out 'terrorists'

PHOTO: AFP

Washington - President-elect Donald Trump vowed Monday, a month before he takes office, to wipe "terrorists" off the face of the Earth, after a series of high-profile attacks in Germany, Turkey and Switzerland.

German police have so far spoken of a possible terror attack after a truck plowed through a crowd, killing at least 12 and injuring dozens more in scenes reminiscent of July's deadly truck attack in the French city of Nice.

But still, Trump condemned the "horrifying terror attack." "ISIS and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad," he added, referring to the Islamic State group.

Trump then promised: "These terrorists and their regional and worldwide networks must be eradicated from the face of the Earth, a mission we will carry out with all freedom-loving partners." In Ankara, a policeman shot dead Russia's ambassador to Turkey. Trump called the gunman a "radical Islamic terrorist." The shooting, during which the gunman shouted "Aleppo" and "Allahu akbar" (God is great), occurred on the eve of a key meeting in Moscow between the Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers on the Syrian conflict.

Protesters in Turkey have held Moscow responsible for human rights violations in Aleppo, with thousands protesting outside the Russian consulate in Istanbul.

Lorry ploughs into Berlin Christmas market in possible terror attack

  • A lorry ploughed into a busy Christmas market in central Berlin on Monday (Dec 19).
  • At least nine people were killed and 50 more hurt.
  • Police said that the incident was a possible terror attack.
  • Ambulances and heavily armed officers rushed to the area after the driver mounted the pavement of the market in a square popular with tourists.
  • The scenes were reminiscent of July's deadly truck attack in the French city of Nice.
  • "A man who was apparently driving the truck was detained," a police spokeswoman told AFP.
  • As witnesses described scenes of panic and carnage, police said at least nine were killed and 50 others were injured.
  • Four people were seriously injured.
  • "We are investigating whether it was a terror attack but do not yet know what was behind it," a police spokesman said.
  • Authorities said there was no indication of "further dangerous situations in the city near Breitscheidplatz", where the suspected attack took place.
  • Police added they had no indications as yet to the nationality or age of the arrested man.
  • Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel reacted quickly to the tragedy, with spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeting: "We mourn the dead and hope that the many people injured can be helped".
  • Traditional Christmas markets are popular in cities and towns throughout Germany and have frequently been mentioned by security services as potentially vulnerable to attacks.
  • "It's awful. We were in Berlin for Christmas", said American tourist Kathy Forbes. "We also thought it would be safer than Paris."
  • Australian Trisha O'Neill told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation she was only metres from where the truck smashed into the crowded market.
  • "I just saw this huge black truck speeding through the markets crushing so many people and then all the lights went out and everything was destroyed. I could hear screaming and then we all froze," she added.
  • Europe has been on high alert for most of 2016, with terror attacks striking Paris and Brussels, while Germany has been hit by several assaults claimed by the Islamic State group and carried out by asylum-seekers.
  • An axe rampage on a train in the southern state of Bavaria in July injured five people, and a suicide bombing wounded 15 people in the same state six days later.
  • The attack in Berlin also comes five months after Tunisian extremist Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a crowd on the Nice seafront, killing 86 people.
  • In response to the suspected attack in Berlin, French President Francois Hollande said, "The French share in the mourning of the Germans in the face of this tragedy that has hit all of Europe."

Turkey and Russia stand on opposite sides of the Syria conflict with Ankara backing rebels trying to topple Moscow's ally President Bashar al-Assad.

But the rhetoric has warmed considerably since a reconciliation deal was signed earlier this year and a Russian and Turkish-brokered accord has helped the evacuation of citizens from Aleppo in the last days.

As a billionaire real estate investor, Trump has curried favor with Moscow through his business dealings over the decades.

His pro-Russia views came under increasing scrutiny in 2015 as he opened his ultimately successful White House campaign, as he has brushed off reports of brutality and repression by Vladimir Putin's Kremlin.

Those ties are coming under fire after US intelligence agencies found that Russia had tried to sway the US election via a cyber hack.

Russian ambassador to Turkey shot dead (Warning, disturbing content)

  • Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov makes a speech at an art gallery shortly before he was shot in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016.
  • Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov lies on the ground after he was shot by Mevlut Mert Altintas (man standing with gun) at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016.
  • Mevlut Mert Altintas is an off-duty police officer who shouted "Don't forget Aleppo" and "Allahu Akbar" as he opened fire.
  • "He took out his gun and shot the ambassador from behind. We saw him lying on the floor and then we ran out," said the witness, who asked not to be identified.
  • A video showed the attacker shouting: "Don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria!" and "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Greatest") as screams rang out.
  • He paced about and shouted as he held the gun in one hand and waved the other in the air.
  • The gunman was killed by special forces.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergei Naryshkin and Alexander Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on December 19, 2016, few hours after the Russian ambassador to Ankara was shot dead by a gunman during an attack at an art exhibition in Ankara.
  • Flowers lie next to a picture of Russia's ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov outside the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow following his assassination in Ankara on December 19, 2016.
  • Two women pay their respects after laying flowers outside the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow following the assassination of Russia's ambassador to Turkey on December 19, 2016.
  • Turkish policemen stand guard near the Cagdas Sanatlar Merkezi, a major art exhibition hall, where Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara, has been shot dead on December 19, 2016 in a gun attack during an art exhibition in Ankara.
  • Turkish policemen stand guard near the Cagdas Sanatlar Merkezi.
  • Turkish Minister of Interior, Suleyman Soylu speaks to journalists outside the Private Guven Hospital where Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara, is treated after being shot by a gunman during an attack at an art exhibition in Ankara.
  • Turkish soldiers and policemen stand guard near the Cagdas Sanatlar Merkezi.
  • Turkish police secure the area near an art gallery where the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016.
  • This handout picture taken on November 16, 2016 and released on December 19, 2016 by the Russian Foreign Ministry, shows Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara.
  • Turkish soldiers and policemen stand guard near the Cagdas Sanatlar Merkezi.
  • Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu arrives to the art gallery where Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016.
  • Turkish police secure the area near an art gallery where the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov was shot in Ankara, Turkey, December 19, 2016.

At the same time, relations between the former Cold War foes are at a very low point.

In Switzerland, a man burst into a Muslim prayer hall, shooting and wounded three men.

Witnesses had described the shooter as a man aged around 30 wearing dark clothes and a dark woollen cap.

A number of Swiss mosques, including one near Zurich and the main one in Geneva, have in recent months been accused in media of allowing or encouraging the radicalization of their worshippers, especially the younger members of their congregations.

"Today there were terror attacks in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany - and it is only getting worse. The civilized world must change thinking!" Trump concluded on Twitter.

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