Germany Opens Probe Against Christmas Market Attack Suspect

An armed German policeman stands guard during a control of motorists at the Franco-German border in Kehl, on December 13, 2018, as part of the hunt for the gunman who killed three people and injured 13 others in an attack on Strasbourg’s Christmas market. SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

 

German prosecutors have launched an investigation into the suspect in the deadly gun attack at a Christmas market in eastern France, a spokesman for the service said Thursday.

Cherif Chekatt, 29, is under investigation for alleged murder, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm, Markus Schmitt, a spokesman for German prosecutors said, confirming a report in the Tagesspiegel daily.

The German probe runs in parallel with the French investigation, Schmitt added.

Chekatt was jailed for burglary in Germany in 2016 but was not deemed a potentially dangerous Islamist, German authorities said Wednesday.

Even though Tuesday evening’s attack took place on French soil, several German nationals were present at the site during the assault. They were not wounded but they suffered shock.

The gunman opened fire at the famed Strasbourg Christmas market, which draws thousands of visitors every year.

The attack left three dead and 13 injured, according to the latest toll given by the French authorities.

German police have tightened border checks over fears that the suspect may have crossed over from neighbouring France.

AFP

German Police Dismiss Terrorism In Deadly Van Attack

Armed Police officers are seen at the scene when several people were killed and injured when a car ploughed into pedestrians in Muenster, western Germany on April 7, 2018.
Friso Gentsch / dpa / AFP

 

German authorities investigating a deadly van ramming attack focused Sunday on mental health problems of the driver, as the city of Muenster mourned for the two people killed on a sunny afternoon at an open-air restaurant.

“There are strong indications at the moment that this was a lone perpetrator and that there were no links to the terror scene,” federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told reporters at the site of Saturday’s attack, where local people laid flowers in memory of the victims.

The 48-year-old German driver identified as Jens R. shot himself dead immediately after the rampage.

Far-right opponents of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy had suggested in the immediate aftermath of the attack it might be an Islamist act of terror, while some media reported the killer had links to right-wing extremist organisations.

But authorities said there was a record of incidents related to the perpetrator’s impaired mental health since 2015, and that he had talked of suicide in an email to acquaintances in late March.

Police and prosecutors said he had faced allegations of threats, property damage and fraud in 2015 and 2016, all of which were dropped.

And broadcaster NTV reported he had threatened family members with an axe in 2014 and 2015.

In the van, police found the gun used by the driver to kill himself, a blank-firing pistol along with some powerful fireworks.

A search of the man’s Muenster apartment turned up more fireworks, a deactivated AK47 assault rifle and canisters of gas and other fuel.

The driver, reportedly a wealthy industrial designer, had two other flats in the eastern cities of Dresden and Pirna which were also being searched.

The daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung said police had found an 18-page missive in his Pirna home in which he wrote of his anguish due to serious problems with his parents, “repeated nervous breakdowns” and “explosions of aggression” as well as a botched medical operation.

 ‘No Islamist connection’

Armed police cordoned off a wide area around the scene of the attack Saturday, urging residents to avoid the city center to allow investigators to get to work amid initial fears the country had suffered an extremist assault.

“It’s still unbelievable for me, but these days anything can happen,” said Hubert Reckermann, a local man in his late 60s on Sunday.

“You can’t really defend yourself against people with psychiatric problems.”

The two victims killed in Muenster were a 51-year-old woman and a 65-year-old man, both from northern Germany.

As well as the dead, police said 20 were hurt — some with life-threatening injuries.

The foreign ministry in the Netherlands said two of the injured were Dutch, one of whom was in a critical condition.

Germany has been on especially high alert for jihadist attacks after several claimed by the Islamic State group.

But “we know with high probability that it was a lone perpetrator, it was a German, not a refugee,” said North Rhine-Westphalia state interior minister Herbert Reul.

“We know with high probability that there was no Islamist background” to the Saturday afternoon attack, inflicted as locals and tourists enjoyed a sunny spring day, he added.

‘Deeply shaken’  

Merkel said she was “deeply shaken” by the incident and pledged that “everything possible will be done to determine what was behind this act and to help the victims”.

The presidents of Russia and France, Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron, as well as Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sent their condolences.

The attack is the latest in a string across Europe in which vehicles have been used to ram into crowds of people in public places.

In a Berlin assault in December 2016, Tunisian asylum-seeker Anis Amri hijacked a truck and murdered its Polish driver before killing another 11 people and wounding dozens more by ploughing the heavy vehicle through a Christmas market.

He was shot dead by Italian police in Milan four days later while on the run.

In France, the Islamic State claimed a 2016 truck attack in Nice on its July 14 national holiday that killed 86.

And in Spain, the jihadists also claimed a rampage along Barcelona’s Las Ramblas boulevard in August 2017 that killed 14 and left more than 100 injured.

AFP

Police Arrest Six Over Alleged Half Marathon Plot

Armed Police officers are seen at the scene when several people were killed and injured when a car ploughed into pedestrians in Muenster, western Germany on April 7, 2018. Photo Credit: Friso Gentsch / dpa / AFP

 

Berlin authorities said they arrested six people Sunday over an alleged plot to carry out a “violent crime” at the German capital’s half marathon which attracted 36,000 runners.

Prosecutors and police said in a statement they had received “isolated indications that those arrested (Sunday) between the ages of 18 and 21 may have been involved in planning a violent crime in connection with this event”.

The security authorities said that on that basis and after a deadly van rampage on Saturday in the western German city of Muenster, they decided to mount the raids against the suspects.

“Due to the still ongoing investigation, no further information can be provided at this time,” they said.

The statement spoke only of “several” arrests and searches of flats and two vehicles in Berlin.

But a tweet by the police mentioned six arrests carried out by special forces.

The half marathon went off early Sunday without incident, drawing large crowds amid warm summer sunshine.

Berlin’s top security official, Andreas Geisel, had said earlier that the capital of 3.5 million people would need to review its precautions for the half marathon following the Muenster attack in which two people were killed.

Some 630 police officers were deployed to guard the race.

Authorities believe the 48-year-old German perpetrator, who shot himself after the Muenster attack, had mental health problems and was not politically motivated.

A report by daily newspaper Die Welt which police did not confirm said that the main suspect in the Berlin probe had links to Tunisian asylum-seeker Anis Amri, who carried out a deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in the German capital in December 2016.

In Germany’s worst jihadist attack to date, Amri hijacked a truck and murdered its Polish driver before killing another 11 people and wounding dozens more by ploughing the heavy vehicle through the crowd.

He was shot dead by Italian police in Milan four days later while on the run.

German Police Arrest Ex-Catalan Leader, Carles Puigdemont

FILE PHOTO Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont (C), sings the Catalan anthem “Els Segadors” after a Catalan parliament session in Barcelona. German police arrested Catalonia’s former president Carles Puigdemont on March 25, 2018, as he crossed over by a car from Denmark. 
Josep LAGO / AFP

 

German Police on Sunday arrested Catalonia’s former President, Carles Puigdemont, as he crossed over by a car from Denmark.

Puigdemont “was arrested today at 11:19 am by Schleswig-Holstein’s highway patrol force,” a German police spokesman told AFP, adding that the detention was based on a European warrant.

“He is now in police custody”, added the spokesman.

Puigdemont’s party spokeswoman Anna Grabalosa also separately confirmed that he was detained on arrival in Germany from Denmark.

“It happened as he crossed the Danish-German border. He was treated well and all his lawyers are there. That is all I can say,” she said.

Puigdemont is wanted by Spain on charges of “rebellion” and “sedition”, over his independence bid for Catalan.

He had been visiting Finland since Thursday but slipped out of the Nordic country before Finnish police could detain him.

Puigdemont’s lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas said on Twitter that Puigdemont was picked up by German police as he was travelling back to Belgium where he has been living in self-imposed exile.

German Police Find ‘Explosive’ Near Potsdam Xmas Market

File Photo: German policemen stand guard on a steet on December 1, 2017 after a suspicious object prompted the evacuation of a Christmas market in Potsdam. “Suspicions of an unconventional explosive device have been confirmed,” police in Brandenburg state outside Berlin said on Twitter. Julian Stähle / dpa / AFP

German police on Friday found an “explosive” containing nails close to a Christmas market in Potsdam, reviving fears of a repeat of last year’s terror attack that struck at the height of the festive season.

The device was uncovered in a package found at a pharmacy just off the Christmas market in central Potsdam, a picturesque city near Berlin that was once a residence for the kings of Prussia.

Police said a pharmacist had sounded the alert after finding a canister with wires inside the package.

“Suspicions of an unconventional explosive device have been confirmed,” police in Brandenburg state said on Twitter.

“There were apparently not only nails but also powder in the canister, and that must be investigated, could it be plaster, or something that doesn’t explode or is it something explosive,” said Brandenburg interior minister Karl-Heinz Schroeter.

He added that investigators were unlikely to be able to give “binding results” on the device today.

After clearing parts of the city centre and Christmas market, bomb disposal units defused the device shortly before 6pm.

“It’s not easy when you’re on the scene, we’re shocked,” Christmas market organiser Peter Klemm told broadcaster NTV.

“But the people here understand what’s going on and take the measures very seriously.”
– High alert-

Germany has been on high alert for possible jihadist attacks after last December’s deadly assault at a Christmas market in central Berlin.

The attacker, Tunisian asylum seeker Anis Amri, hijacked a truck and murdered its Polish driver before killing another 11 people and wounding dozens more by ploughing the heavy vehicle through the festive market in the centre of the city.

He was shot dead by Italian police in Milan four days later while on the run.

Germany has since been targeted again in attacks with radical Islamist motives.

In July 2017, a 26-year-old Palestinian asylum seeker wielding a knife stormed into a supermarket in the northern port city of Hamburg, killing one person and wounding six others before being detained by passers-by.

German prosecutors said the man likely had a “radical Islamist” motive.

And at the end of October, German police arrested a 19-year-old Syrian identified only as Yamen A. suspected of planning a “serious bomb attack” using powerful explosives.

The IS also claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in 2016, including the murder of a teenager in Hamburg, a suicide bombing in the southern city of Ansbach that wounded 15, and an axe attack on a train in Bavaria that left five injured.

Germany remains a target for jihadist groups, in particular because of its involvement in the coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, and its deployment in Afghanistan since 2001.

German troops in the anti-IS coalition do not participate in combat operations but support it through reconnaissance, refuelling and training.

Germany’s security services estimate there are around 10,000 Islamic radicals in Germany, some 1,600 of whom are suspected of being capable of using violence.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has also come under fire for allowing in more than one million asylum seekers in the past two years, with the decision fueling the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which claims the influx spells a heightened security risk.

G20 Summit: German Police Fire Water Cannon At Demonstrators

German Police fired water cannon and pepper spray at protesters gathered to demonstrate against a G20 summit in Hamburg on Thursday after a group of black-clad demonstrators threw bottles and other objects at riot police.

Police expected around 100,000 protesters from around Europe, who say the G20 has failed to solve many of the issues threatening world peace, to gather for the demonstration dubbed “Welcome to Hell” by the anti-capitalist groups behind it.

Dortmund Bomb Suspect Aimed To Profit From Shares – Police

Courtesy: ewn.co.za

German Police have arrested a man suspected of detonating three bombs that targeted the Borussia Dortmund football team bus last week, ahead of their UEFA champions league tie against A.S Monaco

Prosecutors said his aim was to send the club’s shares plummeting and making a profit on an investment.

The 28-year old man is a dual German and Russian national, identified as Sergei V, and had bought options on Borussia Dortmund’s stock bvb.de, before the attack.

The club shares rose at 1.8 per cent on April 12, the day after the attack, and are up about two per cent so far this year.

German Police Arrest Teenage Suspect Murder

germany-policeThe German police has arrested a teenager suspected of killing his nine-year-old neighbor, after a nationwide manhunt.

Police began searching for the 19-year-old Marcel Hesse, after the dead boy was found at his home in the western city of Herne, on Monday night.

The teenager was arrested after identifying himself at a restaurant.

German authorities said he posted images of the body (with multiple stab wounds) online, and also reported a fire at a nearby flat, where another body was found.

Terror Attacks On Germany A Wake-Up Call — Buhari

Terror Attacks On Germany Are Wake-Up Call — BuhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said that the latest terror attacks on Germany are a wake-up call for the rest of the world to show sympathy and solidarity towards Chancellor Angela Merkel in the global effort to neutralise and obliterate terrorists’ agenda against humanity.

The Nigerian leader also extolled Chancellor Merkel’s strong leadership qualities and her compassion towards immigrants from the Middle East and other countries.

President Buhari said he appreciated the Chancellor’s support for Nigeria in dealing with its own domestic challenges, including terrorism.

12 people were killed with 48 injured after a man ploughed a lorry into a Christmas market in Berlin.

Initial reports suggested the driver was an Afghan or Pakistani asylum seeker who arrived in Germany in February.

The Berlin market attack suspect Anis Amri, was later shot dead by police on Friday morning after he was approached by police during a routine patrol in Milan.

Reports say the man opened fire on police who asked him for ID during a routine patrol in the Sesto San Giovanni area in the early hours of Friday

German authorities say fingerprints they provided have confirmed the dead man is Amri. They are trying to find out if he had accomplices.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State (IS) group has released a video purporting to show Amri pledging allegiance to its leader, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi.

He does not make any reference to the Berlin attack, which IS claimed soon afterwards. It is not clear when or where the video was filmed.

Shortly before releasing the video, IS acknowledged Amri’s death in Milan.

Berlin Market Attack: German Police Begin Probe

Berlin Market Attack: German Police begin ProbeThe German police have begun investigations into the cause of what they believe to be a terrorist attack, after a man ploughed a lorry into a Berlin market, killing 12 people and injuring 48.

They have detained the driver, who security sources say is an Afghan or Pakistani asylum seeker who arrived in Germany in February.

Report says the man was known to the police for minor crimes, but not terror links.

“Our investigators are working on the assumption that the truck was deliberately steered into the crowd at the Christmas market…,” police said on Twitter.

“All police measures related to the suspected terrorist attack at Breitscheidplatz are progressing at full steam and with the necessary diligence.”

German politicians had avoided branding the bloodshed a terror attack in the hours immediately following, but Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere told ARD Television: “There are many things pointing to one”.

The truck crashed into people gathered on Monday evening around wooden huts serving mulled wine and sausages at the foot of the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church – left as a ruin after World War Two – in the heart of former West Berlin.

On Tuesday morning the black truck was still visible at the site of the incident and a few candles and roses had been laid by the entrance to a nearby station.

Flowers were being laid in the center of the nearby Kurfuerstendamm, a prestigious shopping street.

Reuters report a woman was crying as she stopped by the flowers.

Lightning Kills 51, Injures Many During Germany Festival

Germany-Lightning -FestivalAt least 51 people have been injured in western Germany with eight of them seriously hurt, after lightning struck at a rock festival on Saturday.

According to BBC, German Police say two people had to be resuscitated.

The organisers of the Rock am Ring festival, now in its 31st year, said that the 2016 event would continue.

They added that clear weather was expected later in the day.

The festival also suffered lightning strikes last year, when 33 people were hospitalised. .

Some 45,000 people are expected to attend the concert over the course of the weekend.

Central Europe has been hit by severe storms and rains over the past few weeks, leading to the death of 11 in Germany.

German Police Detain Two Men Suspected Of IS Links

german policeGerman police detained an Iraqi aged 46 and a Nigerian aged 29 on Thursday on suspicion of having links with Islamic State and of planning “a serious act of violence”, officials said.

Security sources had provided information that both could have been in contact with members of Islamic State, state prosecutor Thomas Steinkraus-Koch said in a statement.

The suspects were detained in the Bavarian capital Munich and nearby Fuerstenfeldbruck, police said in a separate statement, adding there had been no imminent threat to the public.

Police did not immediately find any suspicious items, but were pursuing their investigation, they added. They declined to give any more details, saying there would be no further statements before Friday.

Islamic State released a video on Tuesday suggesting it might carry out further attacks in the West, naming London, Berlin and Rome as possible targets.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for bombings that killed 31 people in Brussels in March and attacks in Paris in November that killed 130.