Germany mounts manhunt for ‘bomber’
GERMAN police have launched a huge manhunt for a 22-year-old Syrian suspected of planning a bomb attack after finding “highly explosive” materials in his apartment.
Security has been boosted at Berlin’s two airports and at train stations in the capital.
The suspect, Jaber Albakr, could have had “an Islamist motive”, police sources told AFP. German news agency DPA, citing security sources, reported that Mr Albakr had links to the Islamic State (IS) group.
The magazine Focus reported that he was suspected of plotting to attack an airport.
Police said “several hundred grams” of an “explosive substance even more dangerous than TNT” were found in Mr Albakr’s apartment in the eastern city of Chemnitz, about 260 kilometres (162 miles) south of Berlin.
“Even a small quantity of this substance could have caused enormous damage,” police said.
The Freie Presse newspaper said the substance was TATP, the homemade explosive used by IS terrorists in the Paris and Brussels attacks.
A spokesperson for Germany’s domestic intelligence agency told AFP that Mr Albakr, who arrived last year as a refugee, had been under surveillance. Investigators raised the alarm on October 7, sparking the raid.
Three people with links to Mr Albakr have been arrested in Chemnitz.
Heavily armed officers, some wearing balaclavas, carried out a vast operation in the neighbourhood where Mr Albakr had been living.
Around 100 local residents were evacuated, and a loud explosion was heard in the leafy suburb as police forced their way into the apartment with an entry device.
Germany has been on edge after suffering two attacks claimed by IS in July – an axe rampage on a train in Wuerzburg that injured five and a suicide bombing in Ansbach that left 15 wounded.
Those two attacks rattled Germans’ sense of security and fuelled concerns over the country’s record influx of nearly 900,000 migrants and refugees last year.
Part of Chemnitz’s main station was sealed off by officers as a remotecontrolled robot was deployed to inspect a suspect package on a platform which turned out to be harmless.
Police destroyed the explosives found in the apartment in specially dug holes on land nearby.
Two of Mr Albakr’s associates were arrested close to the station while a third was taken into custody in the city centre. A package belonging to one of those arrested was undergoing analysis, police added.
Mr Albakr was living in a neighbourhood of Chemnitz whose communist era housing estates are home to many recently arrived refugees.
Police, issuing an image of the 22-year-old, said he was “suspected of preparing a bomb attack”.
German police had previously said they had identified 523 people who posed a security threat to the country, around half of whom were known to be currently in Germany. –
Policemen in protective gear on guard in front of a residential building where the suspect stayed in Chemnitz, eastern Germany, on October 8.