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German Terrorism Defense Center 'reacting slower at weekends'

According to a newspaper report, Germany's General Terrorism Defense Center cannot respond to imminent threats as quickly at weekends as on weekdays. Security officials say the center is still capable of doing the job.

Germany's General Terrorism Defense Center (GTAZ) in Berlin reacted slower to terrorist threats during weekends, the newspaper "Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger" wrote in its Saturday edition. The report quoted sources from Germany's Federal Crime Bureau BKA (Bundeskriminalamt) and politicians from Germany's ruling coalition of conservatives (CDU/CSU) and social democrats (SPD).

The GTAZ was set up in Berlin in 2004 in response to the terrorist attacks of 2001 in the USA, with the aim of preventing such attacks by facilitating the collaboration of different federal and state authorities in Germany such as the police, the Federal Crime Bureau BKA and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

According to the report, there are no regular briefings in the General Terrorism Defense Center on Saturdays and Sundays. In case of imminent threats, the Defense Center's members have to be contacted separately, which would slow down the process.

In the newspaper report, the conservative politician Wolfgang Bosbach (CDU), chairman of the Bundestag's Interior Affairs Committee, underlined the importance of federal and state authorities assessing the security situation together. "Some problems occurred during weekends. This process needs to be optimized," he said.

A spokesperson of the Federal Interior Ministry told news agency AFP later on Saturday that German security authorities were perfectly capable of acting immediately "24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Potential terrorist threats in Germany led to large-scale police operations in the city of Bremen and the cancellation of a demonstration by the anti-Islam Pegida movement in Dresden, as well as the calling off of a carnival procession in Braunschweig.

das/rc (AFP, dpa)

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