Teenager drugged in latest Santa attack

A man dressed as Father Christmas drugged a 15-year-old girl at a market in Berlin over the weekend, the latest in a series of attacks targeting revellers.

At about 10pm on Saturday the suspect approached the girl and her friend at the Alexanderplatz Christmas market, offering them what he said was a shot of alcohol in a paper cup, police said yesterday. One girl refused, but the other drank both of the shots. She soon started vomiting and was taken to hospital, where she was given a blood test. Police said it appeared she had been slipped a date rape drug.

Eight other people at a number of Berlin Christmas markets have fallen prey to similar attacks – usually with an unidentified man in regular clothes handing out single-shot bottles of alcohol, asking people to join him in celebrating the birth of his child. Police said some of the victims – mostly young women – have lost consciousness and many have needed hospital treatment. All have experienced dizziness and nausea.

It is not yet clear whether all of the attacks are linked, or whether some may be copycat crimes. A police spokesman, Ivo Habedank, said that authorities did not yet have a good description of the suspect.