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US cities step up security after Berlin attack

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
NYPD counter-terrorism officers (file photo)

Authorities in major American cities have increased security measures for the New Year holiday in the wake of Monday's attack in the German capital of Berlin, where a truck driver rammed his vehicle into a Christmas market, killing 12 people.

Only an hour after the attack, which also injured nearly 50 people, the New York Police Department (NYPD) deployed heavily armed counter-terrorism units to monitor crowded pop-up Christmas markets in Union Square, Bryant Park and Columbus Circle.

The NYPD has also reached out to truck rental companies, advising them to practice vigilance and report any suspicious interactions with customers who might be looking for a truck to carry out similar attacks.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday confirmed that he was working to beef up the city’s security, describing the precautions as a “sad reality.”

“If any New Yorker sees anything suspicious around one of these Christmas markets, we need to know right away,” he said at a press conference.

Security forces in Chicago, Illinois, have also taken extra steps to ensure that the city remains safe during the holidays.

The corners of Chicago’s landmark Daley Plaza have been blocked by diagonally-parked police cars to prevent vehicle access to a Christmas market there.

San Francisco, California, has also seen a heavy presence of security forces, where motorcycle and mounted horse units have been protecting crowded shopping areas.

The authorities had employed similar measures in July, after a man drove a rented, refrigerated truck weighing about 20 tons into a crowd in Nice, France.  Over 40 people were killed in that attack and more than 400 other were injured.

Both attacks and in Nice and Berlin have been claimed by the Daesh (ISIL) Takfiri terrorists.

The foreign-backed militant group had said earlier that this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, held by the department store chain Macy's, would be "an excellent target" for a truck attack.

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