Are Christmas Markets Safe? The Berlin Incident Came After The State Department’s Warning

BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 21: Visitors walk among a merry-go-round and a ferris wheel at the annual Christmas market at Alexanderplatz on the market's opening day on November 21, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. Christmas markets are opening across Germany this week in a tradition that dates back centuries. For the next four weeks the Christmas markets, which are usually located on the main square of the hosting town or village, will provide holiday cheer with stalls selling mulled wine, sausages, Christmas ornaments and other delights. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Source: Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Christmas is nearing, and the joyous holiday season is generally thought of as a time to relax and be with family. Unfortunately, in places where large groups of people are gathered, there is the chance of some danger. In a scary event Monday, a truck crashed into a crowded Berlin Christmas market

Update: On Monday evening, Berlin police raised the death toll to 12.

The truck driver has been arrested by German police, according to Reuters. The Associated Press is reporting that at least nine people have died and many have been injured, according to German police. According to Time, information coming from the German newspapers Berliner Zeitung and Berliner Morgenpost indicate that the truck drove into the market outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. 

Back in November, the U.S. Department of State released a travel alert for Europe to warn citizens of the possible risk of overseas travel during a busy time of year where many events are held. The release read:

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, particularly during the holiday season. U.S. citizens should exercise caution at holiday festivals, events, and outdoor markets.  This Travel Alert expires on February 20, 2017. 

Credible information indicates the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Da'esh), al-Qa'ida, and their affiliates continue to plan terrorist attacks in Europe, with a focus on the upcoming holiday season and associated events.  U.S. citizens should also be alert to the possibility that extremist sympathizers or self-radicalized extremists may conduct attacks during this period with little or no warning. Terrorists may employ a wide variety of tactics, using both conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests. 

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We don't yet know the motives behind the crash — it could have been an accident, but it's definitely important to take the State Department's warnings seriously, especially after various terror attacks have been committed so recently across the world. The State Department's encouragement for citizens to be on alert to possible attacks is something to remember regardless. 

But that doesn't mean everyone should stop enjoying the holiday season or alter their lives in extreme ways just because of a possibility that something might happen. At the end of the day, it's everyone's individual choice how they are going to live their lives and what they should and shouldn't do. Yes, a warning from the State Department is something to be aware of, certainly. But it's up to you on where you go and what you do each day. Being conscious that something could happen is a part of life, and you need to decide how much caution you want to take when presented with that kind of information.

Tragic events like this are certainly sobering for many, and horrible for those directly affected. It's important to enjoy this time of year, but it's also important to be safe and aware of your surroundings in a given location. 

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