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'No specific evidence' of terror attack plans in Germany

Justice Minister Heiko Maas has said there are no specific indications of terror attack targets in Germany in the wake of the bombing in Istanbul. Security forces in Germany are on high alert.

In an interview with German public broadcaster ARD on Wednesday, Justice Minister Heiko Maas said there were no hard clues suggesting that the suicide bomber in Istanbul specifically targeted German tourists.

Nearly 10 tourists, including several Germans, were killed after an attacker blew himself up in the

Turkish city's historic Sultanahmet district

a day ago. Several others were wounded.

Addressing concerns about the risk of terror strikes in Germany, Maas said, "We have been very alert in the last days - not only because of the [Istanbul] attack. We know that terrorists are targeting Germany and that there is no denying of a danger to security. There is no specific evidence for possible targets, but security forces are on high alert."

Deportation laws tightened

Maas also spoke about the implementation of new rules for deporting foreign offenders after nearly 1,000 men - mostly of North African and Arabian origin -

assaulted hundreds of women at Cologne's central station on New Year's Eve.
Heiko Maas SPD

Justice Minister Heiko Maas

He said the new changes meant foreigners could be deported more easily than before. "Naturally, we will not deport people back to regions where there is war, where they will be tortured or sentenced to death," the justice minister explained, adding that there would be more deportations to other, relatively peaceful countries.

Preventing incidents of sexual assaults by foreigners would be a primary concern for law enforcement agencies, the justice minister emphasized. This would have nothing to do with telling women what distance they should keep from strangers, Maas said, referring to Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker's advice telling women to keep "an arm's length" distance from potential assaulters.

Maas insisted that the basic idea was to punish offenders. "It is not about whether they are foreigners, asylum seekers or refugees or whether they have a German passport. Criminal law does not differentiate in this manner… People who commit crimes must be punished," Maas concluded.

mg/rc (dpa, Reuters)

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