Germany-Netherlands football match in Hannover cancelled, stadium evacuated over bomb threat

Police outside the stadium © Morris Mac Matzen
A friendly game between the German and Dutch national teams in Hannover has been cancelled and the stadium has been evacuated due to a threat of a terror act, police say.

“We had concrete evidence that someone wanted to set off an explosive device in the stadium,” Hannover police chief Volker Kluwe told German TV.

Spectators that had already taken their places in the stands were asked to leave the stadium via loudspeakers. The stadium was cordoned off by police.

There has been a report in a local newspaper saying an ambulance “full of explosives” was found outside the Hannover stadium, however, there has been no official confirmation.

The number of reports regarding a potential terrorist attack during the football match between the German and Dutch national teams had been growing throughout the day and, after assessing them, a decision was taken to cancel the game, German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere said at a press-conference. He revealed neither the source of the information nor the nature of the purported threat, however.

The information about a “planned terrorist attack” was received from foreign sources, was all De Maiziere said.

Lower-Saxony Interior Minister Boris Pistorius said that no explosives have been discovered near the stadium so far.

The game, which was due to start at 8:45 pm local time (19:45 GMT), was supposed to be attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other Cabinet ministers.

Some reports suggested Merkel was already at the stadium when the match was cancelled. Several cars with strobe beacons, possibly carrying high-ranking officials, have left the stadium.

Police in Hannover also reportedly evacuated the TUI Arena, where a music event was about to start, German media report.

A section of the city’s central train station has also been cordoned off, as another suspicious object was found there, DW Sports reports.

Reports suggested that police were about to blow up a suspicious object, which later turned out to be a fake bomb – with wires, circuit boards and a cell phone found inside, RT Deutsch reported, citing police sources.

Earlier, police had blocked the entrance to the stadium for half an hour due to a “suspicious object” that turned out to be a suitcase left without attendance, German media report. The police later said that it had not posed any threat.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has also said that a Syrian passport found at the scene might be fake, suggesting it might have been a “false trail” to turn public opinion against Syrian refugees.

After the terrorist attacks in Paris, security has been significantly stepped up in Hannover, with police officers armed with machine guns patrolling the streets.