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Nationwide manhunt for suspected bomb plotter

October 9, 2016

A countrywide search for a 22-year-old Syrian suspected of planning a bomb attack has entered its second day. Police on Saturday found "highly explosive" materials in a rented flat in the eastern German city of Chemnitz.

Deutschland Polizeieinsatz in Chemnitz
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Meyer

Authorities in Germany are continuing their search for Syrian refugee Jaber A. who is wanted for questioning after the discovery of several hundred grams (approximately 3.5 ounces) of unspecified explosive materials in his residence in the eastern German city of Chemnitz, located 260 kilometers (160 miles) south of Berlin. 

German police, issuing an image of the 22-year-old, said he was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and was "suspected of preparing a bomb attack."

German authorities said Sunday afternoon that the trail appears to have gone cold though efforts to locate him continue.

"We are following numerous tips, but unfortunately we don't have a hot lead yet," Tom Bernhardt, spokesman for the Saxony state criminal investigation office, told the Reuters news agency. "We must continue to assume that this person poses a danger."

Three other Syrian men suspected to be accomplices were arrested Saturday when the high-rise apartment block where the wanted man resides had been put on lockdown. The three men are expected to be formally charged later on Sunday.

Police have not released possible motives nor have their ruled out any links with violent extremists. The wanted man, Bernhardt added, arrived in Germany last year and had been granted refugee status.

Around 100 local residents were evacuated Saturday and a loud explosion was heard in the leafy suburb as heavily armed police commandos forced their way into the suspects apartment. The loud bang was later confirmed to be the material being disposed of in a controlled explosion.

Fahndung nach Syrer Dschaber Al-Bakr nach Sprengstoff-Fund in Chemnitz
A nationwide search is underway to find Jaber A.Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Polizei Sachsen


It was unclear whether the young Syrian had arrived in Germany as a refugee. Some 890,000 migrants arrived in the country in 2015, many of whom had fled the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Germany has been on edge after suffering two attacks claimed by the self-styled terrorist group "Islamic State" (IS) in July: an axe rampage on a passenger train in Würzburg that injured five and a suicide bombing in Ansbach that left 15 injured.

German police said previously they had identified 523 people who posed a security threat to the country, around half of whom were known to be currently in the country.

Deutschland Polizeieinsatz in Chemnitz
Police later destroyed the explosive material found in this Chemnitz apartment blockImage: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Burgi

Editor's note: Deutsche Welle follows the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.

jar/jlw (AFP, Reuters, dpa)