Two stadiums have been evacuated and Hanover's main train station partly closed following a suspected bomb threat in Germany, days after the deadly Paris attacks. Authorities have said that no explosives were found.
German police said early on Tuesday evening that the international friendly between Germany and the Netherlands had been called off due to "security reasons."
The German and Dutch football teams were minutes from arriving at the stadium when fans were asked to evacuate. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, as well as several Dutch government members were also due to attend the match.
Local German media reported that an ambulance was found close to the football stadium, packed with explosives. The reports were not confirmed, however.
Police also closed off part of Hanover's central train station after another object was found before a bomb disposal unit removed a suspicious package from an InterCity (IC) train. Investigators were unable to immediately determine whether it was a bomb or a dummy-explosive.
Tip-off from foreign agency
A second Hanover stadium, the TUI arena, was evacuated shortly after, where fans had been waiting to German band "Söhne Mannheims."
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) confirmed late on Tuesday Germany received information about a potential bomb threat from a foreign intelligence agency around midday on Tuesday.
The information said "an attack on a sport event in Germany could take place within the 48 hours," Herrmann told Bavarian television.
Germany won't 'live in fear'
Speaking at a press conference, de Maiziere said it was he who recommended cancelling the game.
"The indications of danger grew thicker throughout the course of the early evening," de Maiziere said, adding that after careful consideration, "we decided to cancel for the safety of the people."
The interior minister instisted, however, that Germany is not prepared to live in fear of a terrorist threat.
"We want to go to the stadium, visit Christmas markets and attend public celebrations and that is what we will still do," de Maiziere said.
Hunt for suspects
Hanover police were deployed across the city into the early hours of Wednesday morning as the search for suspects got underway.
"No arrests have been made," said spokeswoman for Hanover police, Martina Stern, adding that explosives also hadn't been found.
Belgian police already announced late on Monday that Tuesday's Belgium vs Spain friendly would be called off in light of last Friday's "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist attacks in Paris, in which 129 people were killed.
ksb/bw (AP, AFP, dpa)