Suspect held over Borussia Dortmund bus blasts

German authorities say a person with Islamist links has been detained as part of the probe into Tuesday's attack on a bus carrying members of top soccer team Borussia Dortmund.PHOTO: REUTERS
Spanish player Marc Bartra of German football team Borussia Dortmund underwent surgery on a broken wrist after he was hit by flying glass, when the team bus he was travelling in on Tuesday night was rocked by roadside blasts from bombs "containing me
Spanish player Marc Bartra of German football team Borussia Dortmund underwent surgery on a broken wrist after he was hit by flying glass, when the team bus he was travelling in on Tuesday night was rocked by roadside blasts from bombs "containing metal pieces".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Spanish player Marc Bartra of German football team Borussia Dortmund underwent surgery on a broken wrist after he was hit by flying glass, when the team bus he was travelling in on Tuesday night was rocked by roadside blasts from bombs "containing me
Spanish player Marc Bartra of German football team Borussia Dortmund underwent surgery on a broken wrist after he was hit by flying glass, when the team bus he was travelling in on Tuesday night was rocked by roadside blasts from bombs "containing metal pieces".PHOTO: REUTERS

German prosecutors examining 'terrorist link' after 3 identical letters found at scene

BERLIN • German investigators have detained a suspect linked to extremism over three explosions that rocked the bus of German football team Borussia Dortmund, prosecutors said, confirming that the probe was examining a possible "terrorist link".

The roadside blasts left Dortmund's Spanish player Marc Bartra and a policeman injured, with the bombs "containing metal pieces" detonating minutes after the team bus set off to a planned Champions League game against Monaco on Tuesday night.

The blasts had a radius of more than 100m, federal prosecutors said, adding that it was lucky the toll was not more severe.

The match was postponed to yesterday as security was ratcheted up around Dortmund and in Munich, where Bayern Munich took on Real Madrid. But a defiant Dortmund vowed not to "give in to terror", with the players returning to the pitch for training.

European football's governing body, Uefa, said "security procedures will be enhanced accordingly wherever needed".

Federal prosecutor's office spokesman Frauke Koehler said the probe was examining a possible "terrorist link" after three identical letters were found at the scene.

"An Islamist background appears to be possible," she said, noting that the letter demanded Germany withdraw its deployment of Tornado reconnaissance missions in the international coalition targeting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and close a United States airbase in the western German town of Ramstein.

"Two suspects from the Islamist spectrum have become the focus of our investigation. Both of their apartments were searched and one of the two has been detained," she added.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was "horrified" by the attack, her spokesman said yesterday. "It is a repugnant act. We are only relieved that it did not have more severe consequences," spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.

Uefa said there had been no specific intelligence regarding any threat to any of yesterday's Champions League fixtures, which also include a match in Spain between Atletico Madrid and England's Leicester City.

But the western German city's police chief Gregor Lange said he is "assuming that they were a targeted attack against the Dortmund team".

The explosives detonated minutes after the Dortmund team bus pulled away from the squad's hotel and headed for the stadium. The attack shattered the bus windows, and the vehicle was burned on one side.

Bartra underwent surgery on a broken wrist after he was hit by flying glass, Dortmund president Reinhard Rauball said. A policeman who was on a motorcycle escorting the team bus suffered trauma from the noise of the blasts.

"After the bang, we all crouched down in the bus. We did not know if more would come," Dortmund's Swiss goalkeeper Roman Burki told Swiss media.

Germany has been on high alert since a series of militant attacks last year, including an assault on a Berlin Christmas market that killed a dozen people.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2017, with the headline 'Suspect held over Borussia Dortmund bus blasts'. Print Edition | Subscribe