DORTMUND, Germany (NYTIMES/REUTERS) - As many as three explosions damaged the bus of one of Germany’s most storied soccer teams as it headed to its stadium in Dortmund on Tuesday (April 11), wounding one player and forcing postponement of the match, an important playoff in a major European championship.
The Dortmund police chief, Gregor Lange, said at a late-night news conference that “we assume it was a targeted attack” on the Borussia Dortmund team. The wounded player, Marc Bartra of Spain, was undergoing surgery on his right wrist, a spokesman for the team said.
Hans-Joachim Watzke, Borussia Dortmund’s chief executive, said “three explosive devices” had detonated near a hotel outside Dortmund where the players were staying.
The state prosecutor told reporters that a letter claiming responsibility had been discovered near the site of the blasts, but that it was too soon to say if it was genuine. The prosecutor, Sandra Luecke, declined to answer further questions about the letter’s contents, including what language it was written in.
The authorities also would not describe the three explosive devices. Lange said that a fourth “suspicious object” had been found at the scene, but it had not been set to go off. Photographs of the bus showed that the rear window had been shattered.
In an interview with Blick, a Swiss newspaper, goalkeeper Roman Buerki described the moments after what he said was a “huge bang” as the bus turned onto the main road to go to the stadium.
“I was sitting in the very back row next to Marc Bartra, who was hit by fragments of the broken rear window,” said Buerki, who is Swiss.
All the players then ducked and lay on the bus floor, he said, because “we didn’t know if something more would happen.”
On Twitter, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain wished a “speedy recovery” for Bartra, 26, who played for seven seasons with Barcelona.
Dortmund and Uefa said the match would go ahead on Wednesday at 1645 GMT (12.45am on Thursday, Singapore time).
Bartra joined Dortmund for eight million euros (S$12 million) last year from Barcelona, after coming through the Catalan club’s youth system. He has made 12 appearances for the Spanish national team.
Borussia Dortmund’s managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke was quoted as telling Sky: “The whole team is in a state of shock.”
Police said “currently there is no evidence of a threat to the visitors at the stadium.”
AS Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic told Croatian newspaper 24sata: “We are currently in the stadium, in a safe place, but the feeling’s horrible.”
Anxiety over terrorism continues to grip Europe after attacks in France, Belgium, Britain and, most recently, Sweden.
In Germany on Dec 19, a truck crashed into a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people.