Three held after explosives found in German 'bomb plot' raid
Published 08/10/2016 | 12:19
Three people have been arrested after German police found several hundred grams of explosives in an apartment they raided in connection with a Syrian man suspected of planning a bomb attack in the eastern city of Chemnitz.
Saxony police spokesman Tom Bernhardt said the explosives were "relatively well hidden" in the apartment, which was raided earlier in the day.
Police are still searching for the suspect, identified as 22-year-old Jaber Albakr, from Damascus.
Mr Bernhardt said two people who knew Albakr were taken into custody in the Chemnitz train station area, with a third held in Chemnitz centre.
The three are being questioned.
Mr Bernhardt said the explosives were not considered stable enough to move and they would likely be destroyed in place once other residents in the area have been evacuated.
The apartment was raided after local authorities received a tip from Germany's domestic intelligence agency that the suspect might be there, and that he was thought to be planning a bomb attack.
When police knocked down the door, however, no-one was inside.
Saxony police put out an alert, identifying the suspect and urging anyone with any information of his whereabouts to contact authorities.
They released a photo of a dark-haired man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and said he was last seen wearing similar clothes.
"We have to assume that he is dangerous," Mr Bernhardt said.
Authorities have not said where they think the suspected attack was going to take place.
According to reports, the suspect is believed to be connected to Islamic extremist groups. Mr Bernhardt said, however, that police are still trying to determine what his motivation might be and would only say he was "known" to German intelligence.
Authorities released no details about how long the suspect had been in Germany, and Mr Bernhardt said it was unclear whether he had come in the wave of asylum-seekers in 2015.
Germany took in 890,000 asylum-seekers last year, with Syrians fleeing civil war forming the single largest group.
Neighbours reported hearing an explosion during the raid, but that was the police assault team blowing open the apartment door, police spokeswoman Kathlen Zink revealed.
Germany has been on edge since two attacks this summer claimed by Islamic State in which multiple people were injured and both assailants died.
Two other attacks unrelated to Islamic extremism, including a deadly mall shooting in Munich, have also contributed to heightened fears.