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France

French probe Berlin killers' travels

media The wanted notice for Anis Amri circulated in Germany after Berlin's truck terror attack on Monday December 19 BKA/AFP

An investigation is underway into the travels to Italy from France of the suspect in Berlin’s Christmas market massacre, amid populist calls for an end to Europe’s open borders.

The presumed Berlin Christmas market attacker Anis Amri appears to have travelled through France to get to Italy before being killed in a shootout with Italian police in the early hours of Friday.

Amri was controlled in a routine check near a suburban Milan railway station around 3am. When police asked for his id, he pulled out a gun, then was shot dead.

Police later found a TGV train ticket in his backpack, suggesting he travelled from Chambéry in the French Alps via Turin to Milan.

This has raised serious questions about border controls and security in France and Europe-wide.

How did he get from Berlin into France and onto Italy after his truck onslaught on Monday December 19 which killed 12 people and injured dozens without being intercepted?

Prosecutors probe

The Paris prosecutor has opened an investigation to determine the exact route taken by the Berlin terrorism suspect, said interior minister Bruno Le Roux, while calling for "the utmost caution" on the information currently available on Amri’s presumed passage through France.

In a brief press statement, Le Roux who has come under fire from the opposition on border controls in the Schengen area, said that security had been strengthened since the Berlin attack at France’s borders with Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Calls to close EU borders

Europe’s far-right and populist parties have jumped on the opportunity to criticise the European Union’s open borders policy in the wake of the Berlin suspect’s odyssey.

The Schengen accord which abolished many internal borders in the EU in 1995 has come under fire over migration issues and now with the spiralling terrorist threat.

Eurosceptic politicians say it leaves the door wide open for terrorists.

French far-right chief Marine Le Pen is among those now calling for an end to Schengen and return of national borders.

Amri’s journey was “symptomatic of the total security disaster represented by the Schengen area,” she said.

While Brexit campaigner and former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage tweeted: “If the man shot in Milan is the Berlin killer, then the Schengen area is proven to be a risk to public safety. It must go.”

In Italy, the leader of the populist Five Star Movement, Beppe Grillo, said the Berlin terrorist attack owes to an ‘out of control’ migrant crisis.

It was “crazy” he added that two Italian police officers must risk their lives to deal with a “terrorist wanted by half of Europe”.

Schengen urgently needed reviewing he said so that terrorists no longer travel free across Europe’s borders.

“Italy has become a pathway for terrorists, who we are not able to recognise thanks to Schengen,” Grillo said.
 

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