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Oktoberfest security

September 26, 2009

German authorities have banned air traffic in the skies above Munich's Oktoberfest in response to the spate of terror threats in recent days.

An aircraft with contrails against a blue sky
The no-fly zone comes as a response to several terror threatsImage: Bilderbox

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann announced a no-fly zone over the Oktoberfest festival area on Saturday, Sept. 26. The airspace restriction came at the request of the federal Interior Ministry.

Munich's Theresienwiese beer garden is spread over 77 acres (31 hectares), where 6 million people join in the 16-day celebration every year.

"A no-fly zone appears to be a necessity, given the current security situation," Herrmann said, referring to the multiple terrorist threats directed at Germany over the past few days.

On Thursday, fears about commercial flights transiting over the festival grounds led to several concerned phone calls to the authorities by Oktoberfest attendees.

A torrent of terrorist threats

A man delivers a message with a raised fist and a machine gun
Video messages have threatened German targetsImage: picture alliance / dpa

No less than five threatening messages have surfaced recently, including a message from al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden - replete with German subtitles - demanding that Europeans leave Afghanistan.

Other video threats have been delivered, including a video discovered on Friday, which, according to the German interior ministry, had come from the Taliban

"Because of your commitment here against Islam, attacking Germany has become an attractive idea for us, the mujahedeen," a man calling himself "Ajjub" spoke in German in the video.

The footage included images of potential targets such as Munich's Oktoberfest festival, as well as the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and Cologne's massive cathedral. Images of Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung and Interior Minister Wolfgang Shaeuble were also shown.

This latest video was just another in a string of threats apparently designed to cast a pall over Sunday's national elections.

No fear-mongering

Meanwhile, chairman of the Islamic Council of Germany, Ali Kizilkaya, released a statement saying that he was happy with Interior Minister Schaeuble's management of the threats so far.

"Even in this tense stage of the election campaign, all the democrats have refrained from exploiting the threats," he said.

The no-fly zone will remain in effect until Oct. 4, when the festival comes to an end.

Editor: Toma Tasovac