Hundreds attend funeral of Polish lorry driver killed in Berlin attack

Lukasz Urban, 37, was shot and stabbed after a terrorist attacker hijacked his truck and drove it into the crowded Berlin Christmas market

Rachael Pells
Friday 30 December 2016 15:29
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Mourners attend the funeral of Lukasz Urban, the Polish lorry driver who was killed in the Berlin Christmas market attack, in Banie, Poland, on 30 December
Mourners attend the funeral of Lukasz Urban, the Polish lorry driver who was killed in the Berlin Christmas market attack, in Banie, Poland, on 30 December

Hundreds of mourners have gathered to attend the funeral of a Polish lorry driver killed in the Berlin Christmas market attack.

Lukasz Urban, 37, has been described as the first victim of the attack on December 19 that killed a total of 12 people and injured at least 50.

He was waiting to deliver a shipment of steel in Berlin when his vehicle was hijacked by 24-year-old Tunisian national Anis Amri.

Mr Urban was shot and his body was found in the cab of the lorry.

There was initial speculation that Mr Urban had fought Amri seconds before his vehicle drove into the crowd, but this has since been disproved following a postmortem examination confirming the Polish driver had been shot several hours before.

Polish President Andrzej Duda joined Mr Urban's family, friends and neighbours, gathering with them in the village church in Banie, near the Polish-German border.

The wife of Lukasz Urban, the Polish lorry driver who was killed in the Berlin Christmas market attack, during his funeral in Banie, Poland, on 30 December

A day earlier, the president's spokesman said Mr Duda would attend the funeral to express his “huge respect for Lukasz Urban, who in the eyes of many Poles is definitely a hero, a courageous person.”

Several other Polish political officials and a representative of the German Embassy in Poland were also in attendance.

A letter from Prime Minister Beata Szydlo was read out in which she described her “great pain and sadness” and expressed her sympathy to Mr Urban's family.

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“Poles have fallen victim to terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic fundamentalists but the tragedy that happened in Berlin is unique when it comes to the ruthlessness and cruelty of the perpetrator,” Ms Szydlo said.

A donation page set up for the family of Mr Urban by a British lorry driver raised some £45,000 in its first day and has since surpassed £178,000.

At Mr Urban’s funeral service, bishop Henryk Wejman described him as a man who was conscientious in his work.

“His willingness to work and serve others awakened the trust of other people and openness to others,” he said in his homily.

As the Mass was winding down, the president bowed his head before Mr Urban's coffin before approaching his wife and teenage son, whispering to them, shaking their hands and kissing the wife's hand.

The coffin was then carried out of the church and placed in a hearse, which drove slowly through the village to a cemetery for burial, mourners walking with it.

Before and after the burial, a group of lorry drivers honked the horns of their trucks to honour Mr Urban.

Additional reporting by AP

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