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Poland

Poles bid farewell to first victim of Berlin attack

The Polish truck driver killed in the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin last week has been buried in his hometown. Truckers all over Poland sounded their horns in solidarity with their slain colleague.

Hundreds gathered in Banie, a village in northwestern Poland, on Friday to honor Lukasz Urban, the truck driver killed in the attack on a Berlin Christmas market on December 19.

Under tight security measures, friends and family of Urban along with Polish President Andrzej Duda, political officials and representatives from the German Embassy attended the funeral and burial service.

Polish President Andrzej Duda prays in front of Lukasz Urban's coffin during his funeral

Polish President Andrzej Duda paid his respects

During the service, childhood friends mourned Urban as a kind man who "never said no to anyone."

In a letter read out to the family, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said that "Poles have fallen victim in terrorist attacks before but the tragedy in Berlin is extraordinary in terms of its ruthlessness and brutality."

Outside the small stone church where the funeral was held, a group of truckers assembled in tribute to their murdered colleague. Truck drivers all over Poland paused their trips at midday and sounded their horns to express their solidarity.

Urban leaves behind a wife and a 17-year-old son. A British trucker has raised over 200,000 euros (about $210,000) online for the family, while Polish truck drivers have started a similar donation campaign. The Polish state has promised to pay for the costs of the funeral.

Hijacked in Berlin

The wife of Lukasz Urban touches his coffin during his funeral (Getty Images/AFP/O. Andersen)

Urban's wife touched his coffin during the funeral

Urban was delivering a steel shipment in Berlin when his truck was hijacked. The hijacker - an avowed supporter of the so-called "Islamic State" jihadist group - later drove the vehicle into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 people and leaving around 50 people injured.

Police found Urban shot dead in the cab of the truck. Preliminary autopsy results show that he died roughly at the time the truck was plowing through the market - a more precise time of death is expected to be released by mid-January.

Investigators initially believed that Urban might have grabbed the truck's steering wheel or brakes during the attack, but have since concluded that an automatic breaking system stopped the truck.

Police are still investigating whether the suspected perpetrator, 24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri, acted as a lone wolf or had help planning the attack. The alleged jihadi was shot dead in Italy when he opened fire on two policemen last Friday.

Earlier this week, a 40-year-old Tunisian man was detained because investigators found his number in Amri's phone, but German police released the man on Thursday, saying he had no link to the crime. Last Friday, Tunisian police arrested three young men suspected of forming a terror cell with Amri, among them Amri's nephew.

mb,dm/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa)

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