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Tuesday 19 November 2019

'Serious explosive devices' used in blasts which hit Borussia Dortmund team bus

Police officers and firefighters stand outside the Dortmund team bus after it was damaged in an explosion (AP)
Police officers and firefighters stand outside the Dortmund team bus after it was damaged in an explosion (AP)
Borussia Dortmund fans check their phones for news after the incident on the team bus
Dortmund players stand outside the team hotel after the team bus was damaged in an explosion (AP)

German police are working on the assumption that explosions which rocked the Borussia Dortmund football team's bus were caused by "serious explosive devices".

Police in Dortmund said the devices which went off near the bus as the Bundesliga side were leaving their hotel for a Champions League match "may have been hidden in a hedge near a parking area".

Dortmund defender Marc Bartra suffered injuries to his arm and hand in the incident.

The Champions League quarter-final first leg match between Dortmund and Monaco has been called off and rescheduled for Wednesday.

Police said there were three explosions near the Dortmund team bus as it left a hotel on the outskirts of the western city for the stadium, around six miles away, at around 7pm local time (6pm BST).

A window on the bus was damaged and Spanish defender Marc Bartra was hurt.

Dortmund said Bartra has been taken to hospital, although t he club's chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said the defender's injuries are "nothing life-threatening".

Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Buerki said the team bus had just pulled out of the hotel driveway when an explosion sent glass flying.

The Switzerland international told reporters he was sitting in the last row of the bus, next to Bartra.

Bartra was hit by shards from the broken back window, he added. Players ducked for cover, wondering whether there would be more explosions.

"We're all shocked - nobody thought about a football match in the minutes after that," he said.

Inside the packed stadium, supporters of Monaco, which plays in the French league, chanted "Dortmund, Dortmund" in sympathy for the German side.

Dortmund residents, for their part, used social media to offer accommodation to stranded Monaco supporters ahead of their rescheduled match in Europe's premier soccer club competition.

Mr Watzke said: "The team is totally shocked, that's clear. It's our task now to digest this somehow because it's only 24 hours before we have to play. That's our job."

He added that there was "no alternative" to rescheduling the match for Wednesday, as Monaco also has to play at the weekend and the return Champions League match is scheduled for next week.

"It's a very unfortunate situation but there was no other way," he said.

Stadium spokesman Norbert Dickel informed fans of the cancellation, saying "there is no reason for panic here at the stadium".

Dortmund recommended that fans stay in the stadium and remain calm to facilitate an "orderly departure".

Police said "nearly all" people in the stadium have left, with no problems.

German justice minister Heiko Maas wrote on Twitter: "Shocking news. Our thoughts are with (Borussia Dortmund). You'll never walk alone!"

Germany has seen matches postponed over security concerns before.

In Hannover, in November 2015, Germany's international friendly against the Netherlands was cancelled just before kick-off after police feared an explosive device might be detonated at the stadium.

This came days after devices were detonated outside the Stade de France in Paris as France was playing Germany - part of a co-ordinated attack on the French capital.

PA Media

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