Hanover: German politicians urged the public not to be cowed by the threat of Islamist attacks and said a concrete indication of a security threat had led them to cancel Tuesday’s soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands.
“After the stadium was evacuated, officials said no arrests were made and no explosives found. Later, police in Hanover removed a suspicious package on a train way on its way to southern Germany before giving the all clear.
With security worries running high in Europe after shootings and bombings in Paris last Friday which killed at least 129 people, Chancellor Angela Merkel gathered top ministers and intelligence chiefs for a special meeting on the situation.
The state premier of Lower Saxony defended the decision to cancel the friendly soccer match, which Merkel had been due to attend in the state capital of Hanover. “There was a concrete indication about a concrete danger based on confidential and secret information,” said Premier Stephan Weil.
His Interior Minister Boris Pistorius said indications of a security threat had hardened up over the course of Tuesday. He declined to confirm or deny media reports that a tipoff came from a foreign intelligence agency.
In the meantime, the security situation in the Hanover area had stabilised and there was no sign that Christmas markets might be targets for an attack, something that is worrying many Germans, said Pistorius.
Weil said every big event had to be assessed according to the current security situation, which had changed since the Paris attacks. IS has claimed responsibility for those and French police raided an apartment in Paris where a Belgian militant suspected of masterminding the attacks may have been holed up.
Weil urged people to continue with their normal lives. “I will certainly not retreat into my shell, neither in my position as office holder, nor as a private person unless I receive concrete recommendations by those who deal with these issues intensively,” he told reporters.
Earlier, the head of Germany’s BfV domestic intelligence agency Hans-Georg Maassen stressed that while Germany is an enemy of Islamic State (IS), it should not cancel big public events in response to fears of an attack.
German police say more than 750 suspected Islamists have travelled to the Middle East from Germany and the authorities know of about 70 who have returned from military training camps