Berlin: Hours after a Pakistani asylum seeker was detained on Tuesday and later released, a news agency linked to Islamic State group said that a 'soldier' of the terror organisation carried out the truck attack in Germany that killed 12 people at a Christmas market.
"A soldier of the Islamic State carried out the Berlin operation in response to appeals to target citizens of coalition countries," the ISIS-linked Amaq news agency said in a statement posted online, as per AFP.
Earlier, a 23-year-old Pakistani man, identified by German media as Naved B, was picked up from near the site.
He was released later in the day on the orders of the federal prosecutor.
"The forensic tests carried out so far did not provide evidence of the accused's presence during the crimes in the cab of the lorry," office of the federal prosecutor said.
The large black truck, bearing a Polish number plate and laden with steel girds, rammed into the traditional Christmas market in front of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, one of the main landmarks of the city, shortly after 8 pm (local time) as hundreds of people were milling around the shops and stands.
The vehicle rolled about 50 to 80 metres into the market area at the major public square Breitscheidplatz popular with tourists, hitting a number of visitors and demolishing several shops.
Police said the Scania truck belonged to a Polish transport company and they suspect it may have been stolen from a construction site.
Two persons were inside the driver's cabin at time of the incident, police said, adding that while the driver jumped out of the vehicle after it came to a halt and fled from the scene, a body of a Polish national was found inside the truck.
Meanwhile, a visibly moved Chancellor Angela Merkel, dressed in black, had earlier said authorities believe the deadly rampage was a "terrorist" attack likely committed by an asylum seeker as she pledged the harshest punishment for the "terror" attack, as per PTI.
"I know it will be especially hard for us to take if it is confirmed that the person who committed this attack sought protection and asylum in Germany," she told reporters.
The act would be punished "as hard as our laws require", she added.
(With Agency inputs)