German city cancels carnival parade over 'Islamist terror threat'

BERLIN (AFP) - The German city of Braunschweig cancelled a planned carnival parade Sunday because of a "specific threat of an Islamist attack", police said.

The event, which was to begin at 1120 GMT, was called off following a tip by "reliable state security sources", police said in a statement.

"Police request all visitors not to go to the planned parade route or not to make the trip to Braunschweig in the first place," the statement said.

Organisers said the annual event in Braunschweig was normally the biggest parade in northern Germany during February's Roman Catholic carnival season.

The decision to cancel it was taken by Mayor Ulrich Markurth and the parade's marshal, Gerhard Baller.

There was no immediate indication whether there was a connection with two fatal attacks in Copenhagen Saturday, little more than a month after bloody Islamist attacks in Paris that left 17 people dead.

Last month, Germany's biggest carnival procession, which often includes edgy political satire, banned a float paying tribute to the slain cartoonists of French magazine Charlie Hebdo due to security fears.

The float design, selected in an online popular vote, featured a man dressed in black with an explosives belt and a drawn gun and a jester shoving a pencil down its barrel.

The carnival committee in the western city of Cologne said that it backed the message of the float defending free speech and freedom of the press.

But it had received "messages from concerned locals which we take seriously", though organisers admitted there was "no indication" from the police of a credible terror threat.