GERMANY – ‘Islamist’ suspect held over team bus attack

DORTMUND – German police have detained a suspect with “Islamist links” following a bomb attack on the bus of the Borussia Dortmund football team.

Prosecutors also said the three explosive devices contained metal pieces.

Two letters claiming the attack on Tuesday evening were being investigated, they said.

Prosecutors are treating the blasts as a terrorist attack but say the precise motive is unclear at present.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday said the attack was “an appalling crime” and praised the fans of both Dortmund and their Champions League opponents, Monaco, for coming together.

Fans later filled Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund for the rescheduled quarter-final first-leg, which kicked off at 18:45 local time.

Security was tight for the rescheduled match between Borussia Dortmund and Monaco.

Inside a hotel close to the Dortmund stadium, several of the Monaco team told me how they discussed going ahead with the match.

Some were worried about the implications of the attack, and the risk of more danger, but felt reassured by German security, and ultimately felt to postpone was to give in, and that they were not prepared to do. The players’ bus waiting outside was under constant surveillance by armed police.

As the match finally got under way this evening, under intense security, all fans sang “You’ll never walk alone” together. Players warming up applauded the support.

One fan said his wife would not let him bring his children because “the mass congregation of people outside made the venue too big a target”.

Others were defiant. German and French fans said they had become used to living with the threat of terrorism, and would not be stopped from enjoying their lives: the game would go on.

Earlier, a spokeswoman for Germany’s federal prosecutor, Frauke Koehler, said: “Two suspects from the Islamist spectrum have become the focus of our investigation. Both of their apartments were searched, and one of the two has been detained.”

German media are reporting that the suspect detained is a 25-year-old Iraqi, and the second suspect is a 28-year-old German.

The blast radius of the attack was about 100m. Prosecutors said it was lucky the casualties were not worse.

Borussia Dortmund players were on their way to their Champions League match, when three explosive charges detonated, police said.

Spain international Marc Bartra underwent an operation after breaking a bone in his wrist. No other players were hurt, but a police officer on a motorbike escorting the bus suffered trauma from the noise of the explosions.

Several reports said the explosives had been hidden in a hedge.

Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki told Swiss news outlet Blick that the bus had turned on to the main road when there was a loud noise.

The players ducked to the floor of the bus, not knowing if there would be more blasts, he said.

Captain Marcel Schmelzer added “we’re all in shock” but their thoughts were with their injured colleague. The 80,000-capacity Signal Iduna Park was later evacuated safely.

Source: (BBC)

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