MUNICH (AFP) – German officials said on Friday (Jan 1) that they had information indicating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was planning a suicide bomb attack on New Year’s Eve in the southern city of Munich, putting the police on high alert.
“The Federal Criminal Authority informed Bavarian police... of indications provided by a friendly intelligence service that ISIS was planning an attack tonight at midnight at Munich main rail station and/or Pasing station,” said Interior Minister for the southern state of Bavaria Joachim Herrmann.
Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae added that information suggested that “five to seven” suspects were planning to carry out a “suicide attack”.
The police said an investigation was under way, with 550 officers deployed to hunt down up to seven suspects and secure the city, warning that the threat remained “high”.
“We still have many colleagues deployed. There is, as before, a high threat of terror,” a police spokesman told Agence France-Presse.
“The indications (of a possible attack) have not been substantiated so far, but we are taking them seriously and hence our (security) measures,” he added.
Regional broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk said the suspects were seven Iraqis living in Munich who were allegedly planning to work in pairs and blow themselves up at the two stations as well in other parts of the city.
German police had earlier said on Thursday that they had “indications that a terror attack” was being planned for New Year’s Eve in Munich, as they called on the public to avoid large gatherings and two key train stations.
“Current indications show that a terror attack is being planned in Munich. Please avoid gatherings of people and the Munich and Pasing train stations,” police said in a tweet.
Both stations have been evacuated, they said, and train services were no longer running at the two stations.
A police spokesman told AFP that they had “reliable information” that a group was planning to act as festivities were well under way on New Year’s Eve.
Although the train stations have been evacuated, the spokesman said it could not be ruled out that the attackers could seek another target.
By Friday morning, the stations were reopened, the Munich police said, but they warned the public to remain vigilant.
European capitals are on high security alert, with Brussels and Paris both scrapping fireworks for New Year’s celebrations.
In Berlin, the police presence has been stepped up at the Brandenburg Gate, where hundreds of thousands of people have gathered for festivities. All large bags and backpacks have been banned from the site of the huge street party.