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German police release teenager suspected of planning suicide bomb attack

German police have let go the 17-year-old Syrian detained on suspicion of planning a suicide attack in Berlin. Authorities found no evidence he was planning a terrorist attack.

No concrete evidence was found that the teenager was planning a crime that endangered the state, prosecutors said on Wednesday, adding that there was also no evidence that he was linked to any foreign militant organization.

Brandenburg state police will not be seeking an order to keep the teenager in investigative detention, Brandenburg police spokesman Torsten Herbst told the Associated Press. Brandenburg police said at its peak, 130 officials were assigned to the investigation.

The teenager was apprehended on Tuesday at a home for refugees in Gerswalde, 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Berlin in the Uckermark region.

He had sent a WhatsApp message to his mother saying goodbye and that he would be joining jihad, the police said. German media reports now suggest that the message had been mistranslated.

The message was sent within the last week and Brandenburg authorities were told of it late Monday night by two other German states, Herbst said.

A. - named 'Nidal' by police and whose last name hasn't been released in line with German privacy laws - was questioned for several hours and his mobile phones and a tablet were confiscated and examined.

The teenager had reportedly never come to police attention before after arriving in Germany in 2015 as an unaccompanied minor and registering as an asylum-seeker. He has been living since 2016 in a home for minor refugees in Gerswalde.

A policeman guarding the Federal Chancellery in Berlin.

A policeman guarding the Federal Chancellery in Berlin

Germany has been on high alert since December when a jihadi killed 12 people driving a truck into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin. 

A 16-year-old Syrian refugee was convicted in April of planning a bomb attack in Cologne and sentenced to two years in a youth prison.

Some 280,000 asylum-seekers arrived in Germany last year, a drop of more than 600,000 compared to 2015. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently moved to increase deportations of failed asylum-seekers.

jbh/sms (AP, Reuters)

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