Munich wakes up in 2016 to continued threats
BERLIN – Munich train stations reopened and trains were running on New Year’s Day, but a warning about Islamic State extremists intending to blow themselves up in the German city remained in place.
“The information about an imminent terror attack at midnight was very concrete,” police spokeswoman Elisabeth Matzinger told The Associated Press on Friday. “Even though nothing happened, our terror warning stays in place.”
Just shortly before the city rang in the new year, Munich police had evacuated the main train station and a station in the Pasing neighbourhood. Partygoers were asked to avoid crowds.
At a Friday news conference, Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said a friendly foreign intelligence service had warned Germany of an imminent attack at midnight by between five and seven Islamic State militants from Syria and Iraq planning to blow themselves up at locations in Munich, including the two stations.
Authorities were investigating intensively on Friday, Herrmann said, but so far had not made any arrests. He said they had received personal data for some of the attackers and were still in the process of investigating and verifying the information. He would not give any further details on the possible attackers.
Herrmann called on Munich residents to be cautious, but at the same time not to let the warning interfere with their normal lives.
More than 500 police and special unit officers from all over the southern Bavaria region were called to Munich late Friday night to help evacuate and secure the stations. Friday noon, some 100 extra officers were still present in the city.
Herrmann asked Munich residents for understanding that police would conduct more ID checks than usual.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere thanked all involved authorities for their “thoughtful, considerate and decisive” action in Munich on New Year’s Eve.
“The situation in Europe and Germany continues to be serious in the new year,” de Maiziere said. “Indeed we did get indications (for a planned attack) yesterday, which were evaluated by the Bavarian intelligence authorities and federal police.”
De Maiziere promised that in the future, German security officials would continue to analyze the situation thoroughly and act accordingly.
Despite police warnings to stay away from big crowds, thousands of people were on the streets of Munich at midnight to welcome the new year with fireworks.
Cities across Europe have been on edge since an attack in Paris in November that killed 130 people.
A few days after the Paris attack, a soccer stadium in Hannover in central Germany was evacuated after a threat against a friendly match between Germany and the Netherlands. The authorities never reported any findings of explosives or concrete attack plans.