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Germany

Germany steps up security on news of planned terror attack

Germany announces stepped up security in light of information that terrorists may be planning an attack in the country for late November. Security is to be increased at all airports and train stations.

A police officer at a German train station

Travelers can expect increased alert at transport hubs

Germany's interior minister has announced that security is being stepped up at airports and train stations across the country. Thomas de Maiziere told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday that the move came in light of concrete information received, indicating that a terrorist attack was being planned for the end of November in Germany.

"From today, there will be a visible police presence. I thought it should be explained to citizens," De Maiziere said. "There is reason for concern, but no reason for hysteria."

Thomas de Maiziere

De Maiziere: 'reason for concern, not hysteria'

De Maiziere called on all citizens to be vigilant. Any unattended packages or bags should be reported to security officials. The increased alert applied to all of Germany.

Three scenarios

The government did not provide any details, but security officials in Berlin said three suspected threats had arisen.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officials said one involved senior al Qaeda leader Younis al Mauretani, who was planning an operation against Europe and the United States.

The second involved a plot to carry out coordinated armed attacks similar to those that killed 166 people in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008. Indications emerged that between 15 and 25 militants were lying in wait in Europe preparing for such a strike, potentially in Germany, the officials said.

Pigeons fly above the Taj Mahal Hotel during the Mumbai attacks

One of the scenarios resembles the 2008 attacks in Mumbai

A third scenario pointed to sleeper cells already in Germany, though no specific targets were identified.

Although the evidence pointed to a real threat, de Maiziere called on Germans to avoid overreating.

"It is not cause and should not be cause for us to change our daily lives totally," the minister said, comparing the situation to the security alarm surrounding Germany's federal elections in 2009.

De Maiziere said "a tip from an international partner after the Yemen incident" alerted the interior ministry to the potential threat.

Past threats from Yemen

Earlier this month, the discovery of two US-bound parcel bombs sent via airmail from Yemen raised new fears about security. The parcel bombs coincided with package bombs sent by Greek militants to Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

The German government responded by grounding all cargo planes originating from Yemen, a ban that has since been lifted.

In October, De Maiziere drew criticism after he warned against "alarmism" in the wake of travel alerts for Europe issued by the United States, Britain and Japan.

Author: Sarah Harman, Gabriel Borrud (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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