CANBERRA -– Australia's security and policing chiefs are "intensifying" efforts to protect Australians at mass attendance events like markets and New Year's Eve, in light of a deadly truck assault overnight on a crowded Christmas market in Berlin.
During an event to mark the signing on an agreement with France to build Australia's future submarine fleet, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has "utterly" condemned the attack in the German capital which has killed at least 12 people and injured scores more. The Prime Minister also condemned the "cowardly assassination" in an Ankara art gallery of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.
Noting the tempo of mass casualty terrorist attacks appears to be picking up -- and citing large and deadly incidents in Nigeria, Yemen, Istanbul, Somalia, Cairo, Jordan and now Berlin –- Turnbull said he'd spoken Tuesday with the Foreign Minister, Justice Minister, the head of ASIO, the AFP Commissioner and the Office of the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator.
#Berlin if you are concerned for welfare of Australians call Aus Embassy in Berlin 0308800880 or in Australia 1300555135— Lynette Wood (@AusAmb_DE) December 19, 2016
"We have established that the embassy staff in Berlin are all accounted for, there were no Australians affected by the attack in Turkey," Turnbull told reporters in Adelaide.
"I've been in touch with our ambassadors in both capitals."
Following the deadly Nice truck attack in July, which killed 86 people and injured 434 including many children, and now the "similar" incident in Berlin, the Prime Minister said federal, state and territory authorities are focusing efforts on the so-called "soft target" of a mass attendance events like markets.
Terribly sad news today from #berlin and from Ankara, and yesterday from Jordan. Trying times.— Dave Sharma 🇦🇺 (@AusAmbIsrael) December 19, 2016
"We are intensifying the steps that we have already set in place to ensure that we have the protective measures to respond to attacks such as that that we've seen in Berlin," Turnbull said.
He said the AFP Commissioner is "ensuring everyone is well prepared to anticipate attacks of this kind".
Turnbull has discussed the attack in Berlin with AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin, says Australia well prepared to anticipate similar attacks.— Henry Belot (@Henry_Belot) December 19, 2016
Turnbull reminded that all risk cannot be mitigated, but authorities are working "night and day to keep Australians safe".
"I can reassure Australians that we have finest police and security forces in the world, we are keenly focused on keeping Australians safe, whether they are at a market or a New Year's Eve celebration, wherever they may be."
Turnbull says govt is also "intensifying" steps already set in place for protective measures to respond to attacks such as that in Berlin.— Katina Curtis (@katinacurtis) December 19, 2016
"We are very a tentative to events internationally, to ensure that we learn from them and make sure that we put measures in place to anticipate similar occurrences here."
While investigations into the Berlin attack incident are underway, the Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has described it as an "absolutely terrible" event and a "reminder of the evil that's out there in this world".
Berlin truck attack: "A reminder of the evil that's out there in this world." https://t.co/NHd9eQu5Qb— HuffPost Australia (@HuffPostAU) December 19, 2016
Morrison notes it is a "sensitive time of year".
"It is a horrible reminder that even at times like this, which is supposed to be full of joy and family and faith and all of these sorts of things, that it is a terrible reminder of the evil that's out there in this world," he said.
"And I think it is an important thing to do as we go into this Christmas break to count our blessings. This is a wonderful country and we thank God for it."
The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising Australians to avoid the affected area, remain vigilant in public places and follow the advice of local authorities.