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Germany

German interior ministers acknowledge terror threat, call for calm

Germany's interior ministers have called on citizens to continue living their lives as before, in the face of recent terror threats. On the same day, in Namibia, a suspected bomb was found on a plane headed for Munich.

Police patrol the main train station in Cologne

Police are patrolling airports and train stations

The German government has urged citizens to remain calm and not to let the recent terror alerts affect their daily lives, according to a communique issued at a meeting of the interior ministers of the country's 16 federal states.

"International terrorism aims to spread fear in our country. This we will not allow," German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said at the gathering in the northern city of Hamburg.

"We ask all citizens to continue living their lives as before, without fear, in peaceful cooperation with one another and heightened vigilance for one another."

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere

De Maiziere: 'reason for concern, not hysteria'

The talks came on the same day Namibian police at Windhoek airport intercepted a suspected bomb with a detonator and running clock on an Air Berlin plane bound for Munich. Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) said on Thursday that the device was found inside a laptop case wrapped in plastic, adding that investigations were ongoing as to whether the explosive would detonate.

Germany is on heightened alert following Wednesday's announcement that a terrorist attack was being planned for the country. Daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported that the United States had told Berlin that between two to four al-Qaeda militants were on their way to Germany and Britain to attempt attacks at the end of November.

Among the targets are said to be Germany's popular Christmas markets, scheduled to open in the coming days. Security has been stepped up at airports and train stations across the country, and de Maiziere called on all citizens to be vigilant.

"From today, there will be a visible police presence. I thought it should be explained to citizens," de Maiziere told reporters at a news conference in Berlin on Wednesday. "There is reason for concern, but no reason for hysteria."

Calls for tougher security

Meanwhile, the head of Germany's police union has criticized the government for not sufficiently preparing the German public for possible terrorist attacks.

In comments made to the daily newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt, Konrad Freiberg said on Thursday that there were "serious security deficits," and that "everything humanly possible" must be done "to protect the public from risk."

In the wake of the Wednesday's announcement, government officials on Thursday also called for a tougher security laws.´

A technician walks near an Air Berlin aircraft

Authorities are baffled as to how the device made it aboard

Hans-Peter Uhl, of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, called for an increased focus on public surveillance and the monitoring of telecommunications and data collection.

"Only the intelligence services can help us identify terrorist threats early enough," he told the daily newspaper Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger on Thursday. He said it was "completely unthinkable" that the public could be protected without data collection.

Earlier this year, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that a privacy law concerning the mass storage of telephone and Internet communication data for up to six months was unconstitutional and should be thrown out. Since March, the storage of such data has been outlawed, though certain government ministers have pushed for an early review of the decision.

Wolfgang Bosbach, the CDU's spokesman on interior affairs, sees no need for tougher laws.

"The new threats are no reason for legislative changes," he told the Neuen Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper, instead calling for calm and increased watchfulness.

Author: Martin Kuebler, Gabriel Borrud (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Rob Turner

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