German authorities knew of Munich terror threat before Christmas | News | DW | 01.01.2016
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German authorities knew of Munich terror threat before Christmas

An investigation conducted by German media has shown that authorities knew of a possible attack in Munich prior to the holiday. The city' police chief said authorities had a "very concrete" tip on the terror threat.

German periodical "Süddeutsche Zeitung," along with public broadcasters WDR and NDR, discovered that authorities - including the interior ministry and public prosecutor's office - had information of a possible terrorist attack in Munich as of December 23.

"The situation in Europe and Germany continues to be serious in the New Year," said German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in a statement.

"Indeed, we did get indications (for a planned attack) yesterday, which were evaluated by the Bavarian intelligence authorities and federal police," de Maiziere added.

Munich police chief Hubertus Andrä told a news conference on Friday that German officials had received a "very concrete" tip that suicide attacks were planned in Munich.

He added that that there was now thought to be no "imminent danger," although it was unclear whether possible suspects were on the loose.

Andrä's comments came after the evacuations of both the central train station and a station in the western Pasing district, both among the possible targets, on Thursday evening. According to Andrä, five to seven people were involved in the possible plan.

Andrä claimed authorities had received the names of "roughly half" those suspects from a friendly security service. Syrians and Iraqis were said to be involved. However, Andrä said it remained unclear whether the information was true.

"We have examined data relating to these names, but at the moment, we do not know if these names are correct, whether these people exist and where they are," said Andrä.

Not a false alarm

The police chief added that the terror warning had been decreased to the level that it was at before the information was received.

"Overall I would say that the situation for Munich is as it was before this threat of attack," said Andrä. The police chief dismissed speculation that the threat had been a false alarm. "

"If there is such information, we have to act" he said. The stations reopened a little after 3:30 a.m. (0230 UTC), allowing trains to depart according to schedule.

Some 100 extra security personnel were still deployed in the city on Sunday, with 550 additional police officers having been drafted in from across Bavaria to help in the evacuations. Security forces were patrolling city center streets and around train stations on Friday.

The extent of the security operation had been agreed "to show an appropriate presence and to suitably satisfy citizens' security needs," Andrä said.

"We still have significant police deployment at Munich central station and Pasing station, but this has been significantly reduced compared to last night," said Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Hermann (pictured above, right).

Meanwhile, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere thanked all involved authorities for their "thoughtful, considerate and decisive" action in Munich on New Year's Eve.

ls,rc/jil (APF, AP, dpa, SZ)