Police in Munich are hunting Islamic State suspects after a foreign intelligence agency warned of a “concrete” plan to send suicide bombers to the city’s train stations during New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Five to seven people were reportedly planning suicide bomb attacks on the main Hauptbahnhof station and Pasing station at the western end of the city centre, in what German authorities said was a “serious, imminent threat”, prompting them to evacuate the sites and warn people to stay away.
Munich police president Hubertus Andrä told a news conference on Friday that German officials had received a “very concrete” tip that suicide attacks were planned at train stations in the southern city at midnight.
“We received names. We can’t say if they are in Munich or in fact in Germany,” Andrä said.
About 550 officers have been deployed to secure the city and no arrests had yet been made, he said.
The Bavarian interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, told a media conference on Thursday night: “The threat was very concretely centred on midnight and at these two places.” He added that all necessary security measures were being taken.
Citing anonymous security sources, Bavarian state broadcaster BR reported that Germany had received warnings from both US and French intelligence agencies earlier in the day. According to the intelligence, seven Iraqis living in Munich were named as the potential attackers, and they were planning to enter the stations in pairs and blow themselves up simultaneously.
Munich police spokeswoman Elizabeth Matzinger could not confirm the nationalities or the suspected residence of the suspects, or whether a manhunt for identified individuals was underway.
“Investigations are happening, but I cannot give out any details, that is a tactical information,” she told the Guardian. “I can’t confirm whether they are Iraqis, but it was apparently a group of five to seven people affiliated to IS [Isis].”
The two stations were shut down and evacuated around midnight, while special unit police officers armed with automatic weapons were stationed at entrances.
Munich police issued a statement saying that an attack was expected in the city during the night, and warned people to avoid the two stations and large crowds in general. But by 4 am, the situation appeared to have calmed significantly, and the two stations were re-opened. (The Guardian)