Ger­man po­lice find ex­plo­sives dur­ing man­hunt

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Po­lice yes­ter­day found sev­eral hun­dred grams of “ex­plo­sive ma­te­ri­als” in the east Ger­man apart­ment of a Syr­ian man suspected of plan­ning a bomb at­tack, and ar­rested three peo­ple con­nected to him. The sus­pect who re­mains at large, 22-yearold Syr­ian Jaber Al­bakr, could have had “an Is­lamist mo­tive” sources close to the po­lice told AFP. “Highly ex­plo­sive ma­te­ri­als were found in the apart­ment con­cerned in Chem­nitz, new evac­u­a­tion mea­sures are nec­es­sary,” tweeted po­lice in Ger­many’s east.

Of­fi­cers found “sev­eral hun­dred grams (of a) very dan­ger­ous sub­stance which can­not be moved without pro­tec­tive mea­sures”, said po­lice spokesman Tom Bern­hardt. Two of those ar­rested were seized close to the city’s rail­way station while the other was taken into cus­tody in the city cen­ter. A pack­age be­long­ing to one of those ar­rested was un­der­go­ing anal­y­sis, po­lice added. “They were known to the sus­pect we are look­ing for and were ar­rested and de­tained,” said Bern­hardt who added that the trio were be­ing ques­tioned.

Ger­many has been on edge after suf­fer­ing two at­tacks claimed by the Is­lamic State group (IS) in July - an axe ram­page on a train in Wuerzburg that

in­jured five and a sui­cide bomb­ing in Ans­bach that left 15 wounded. The at­tacks in July rat­tled Ger­mans’ sense of se­cu­rity and fu­elled con­cerns over the coun­try’s record in­flux of mi­grants and refugees last year. Po­lice in the state of Sax­ony, where Chem­nitz is lo­cated, is­sued a search war­rant for Al­bakr after of­fi­cers re­ceived in­for­ma­tion from do­mes­tic in­tel­li­gence ser­vices, a po­lice spokesman said, say­ing he was born in Syria in Jan­uary 1994.

They added that Al­bakr was wear­ing a black hooded sweat­shirt and was “suspected of pre­par­ing a bomb at­tack” and is­sued an im­age of the man. He ar­rived in Ger­many as a refugee last year and was un­der in­te­rior min­istry surveil­lance for a pe­riod, ac­cord­ing to Fo­cus mag­a­zine, which cited in­tel­li­gence sources. The Ger­man mag­a­zine’s web­site added that he had been plot­ting to at­tack an air­port in the coun­try.

A vast po­lice op­er­a­tion was un­der­way as heav­ily armed of­fi­cers, some wear­ing bal­a­clavas, combed the area around Al­bakr’s apart­ment and lo­cal res­i­dents were evac­u­ated. An ex­plo­sion was heard in the leafy Chem­nitz sub­urb which in­ves­ti­ga­tors said was a po­lice en­try de­vice. Part of the city’s main station was sealed off by of­fi­cers as a re­mote-con­trolled ro­bot was de­ployed to in­spect a sus­pect pack­age on a plat­form.

Ger­man po­lice said pre­vi­ously they had iden­ti­fied 523 peo­ple who posed a se­cu­rity threat to the coun­try, around half of whom were known to be cur­rently in Ger­many. On Sept 21 Ger­man of­fi­cials said a 16-year-old Syr­ian refugee had been ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of plan­ning a bomb at­tack in the name of IS. The young­ster, thought to have been rad­i­cal­ized only re­cently, was de­tained in a spe­cial forces op­er­a­tion at a shel­ter for asy­lum-seek­ers in the west­ern city of Cologne, po­lice and prose­cu­tors said.

Ini­tial in­for­ma­tion gath­ered from the teenager’s mo­bile phone showed that he had ex­pressed an “un­mis­tak­able will­ing­ness” to carry out an at­tack, Klaus-Stephan Becker of the Cologne po­lice told re­porters. A week ear­lier, Ger­man po­lice de­tained three men with forged Syr­ian pass­ports ac­cused of be­ing IS mil­i­tants and la­belled a pos­si­ble “sleeper cell” with links to the as­sailants be­hind the Novem­ber at­tacks in Paris.

More than 200 po­lice took part in predawn raids in north­ern Ger­many to de­tain the men, suspected of ei­ther plot­ting an at­tack or await­ing or­ders to com­mit one. Ger­man au­thor­i­ties have urged the pub­lic not to con­fuse mi­grants with “ter­ror­ists”, but have ac­knowl­edged that more ji­hadists may have en­tered the coun­try among the one mil­lion asy­lum-seek­ers who ar­rived last year. — AFP

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