Borussia Dortmund boss vows ‘we won’t give in to terror’ as German police probe 'Islamist link' to team bus blasts

German investigators are looking into the possibility that explosions targeting a bus carrying players of soccer club Borussia Dortmund may have been carried out by Islamists militants.
The Borussia Dortmund football team bus that was damaged in the attack.
The Borussia Dortmund football team bus that was damaged in the attack. PHOTO: AFP

DORTMUND, GERMANY (AFP, REUTERS) - Borussia Dortmund will “not give in to terror”, the Bundesliga team’s chief executive vowed Wednesday (April 12) after the bus carrying the squad to a match was hit by three explosions, injuring two people.  

“In the dressing room, I called on the team to show the public that we will not give in to terror,” Hans-Joachim Watze said on Twitter, as the German club announced that the players had returned to training a day after the blasts.

His comments came as media reported that German investigators were looking into the possible involvement of Islamist militants or anti-Nazi activists in the blasts.

 
 

Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said a letter left near the scene of the attack on Tuesday claimed it was in retaliation for German military reconnaissance missions against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 

The paper also said the letter might be a deliberate attempt to mislead investigators. 

German press agency dpa said investigators were examining a second letter, posted on an anti-fascism online portal, which said the attack was in retaliation for what it called the club’s soft approach toward neo-Nazi and racist fans.  

The Federal Public Prosecutor said in a statement it had taken over the investigation and would hold a news conference at 2pm. (8pm Singapore time).  

Windows on the bus were broken in the attack, in which three explosions went off at 7:15pm on Tuesday near the hotel where the team was staying.  Spanish defender Marc Bartra was injured and the Champions League clash with AS Monaco was postponed by a day until Wednesday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was appalled by the attack, her spokesman said on Wednesday.

“The chancellor was last night, like people in Dortmund, like millions everywhere, appalled by the attack on the BVB team bus,” spokesman said Steffen Seibert told a government news conference. “One can only be relieved that the consequences were not worse,” he said, praising Dortmund fans for lodging AS Monaco fans after their Champions League match was postponed until Wednesday evening. 

Bartra was operated on for a broken bone in his right wrist and shrapnel in his arm, a team spokesman said.  

The 26-year-old joined Dortmund for 8 million euros last year from Barcelona, after coming through the Catalan club’s youth system. He has made 12 appearances for the Spanish national team.  

The blasts revived memories of Islamist militant attacks in Paris in November 2015 whose targets included a stadium where France were playing Germany in a soccer friendly.  

Security is among the issues at the heart of Germany’s parliamentary election on Sept. 24, a tight battle in which Chancellor Angela Merkel is running for a fourth term.

In December, a Tunisian man killed 12 people when he ploughed a truck through a Berlin Christmas market.