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550 Germans have joined extremist groups in Middle East, spy agency reveals

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The head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency Hans-Georg Maassen

The head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency Hans-Georg Maassen

AP

The head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency Hans-Georg Maassen

The head of Germany's intelligence agency has said authorities now know of 550 people from the country who have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join extremist groups, about 60 of whom have died.

The figure given by Hans-Georg Maassen in an interview with Sunday's Welt am Sonntag newspaper is up from the previous total of 450 authorities had revealed.

He was quoted as saying that "about 60 of these people coming from Germany so far have been killed or killed themselves - at least nine of them in suicide attacks".

Officials in Germany and other European countries worry that radicalised extremists returning from Syria and Iraq could pose a risk to security at home.

Mr Maassen said authorities believe about 180 have returned to Germany.

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