German police evacuate 2 train stations in Munich, warn public over ISIS suicide attack threat
At 19:40 local time, the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) informed the Munich police that they had received information about five to seven Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS / ISIL) would-be suicide bombers preparing a terrorist attack on the city, Munich police chief Hubertus Andrä told a press conference.
Andrä added that there are 550 officers deployed in Munich, but they have yet to find any indication of an imminent threat.
The exact location and time of the allegedly planned attacks were given, which alarmed the authorities and forced them to act, the official explained.
Munich police tweeted that they reopened both train stations at 4:15 am local time (3:15am GMT), adding that police forces remain on alert and will maintain a presence at both sites.
Earlier, Polizei München said on Facebook that the train stations will be sealed off indefinitely. Police also asked the public to follow their further instructions.
The warning was issued “due to a serious indication of terror attack threat in Munich area.”
The information received by police referred to an attack planned specifically for New Year’s night. Citizens have thus been asked to avoid crowded places throughout the entire city as police work to identify possible suspects.
Meanwhile in central Munich, New Year celebrations went on without incident, although the warning made some of the people on Marienplatz nervous or irritated.
Heavily armed police units have been placed at the entrances and exits of the central train station in Munich, Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR), radio reported.
According to BR, there could be several terrorists groups trying to attack various parts of the city. “We have concrete evidence that we cannot sweep this under the carpet,” a police spokesperson said on Thursday.
City’s police said that, to “provide safety,” it is getting help from the armed forces of South Bavaria.
European cities scale back New Year’s celebrations
Cities across Europe had to review, reduce or even cancel New Year's Eve celebrations over terror attack fears. Police forces in London, Madrid and Istanbul increased their presence as thousands of people turned out to celebrate the arrival of 2016.
Brussels authorities made the decision to call off the Belgian capital’s traditional New Year’s festivities because of the threat of terrorist attacks in the city. The move came after the arrest of three people suspected of planning an attack targeting the holiday.
“The fireworks and all that was expected to bring together many people in the center of Brussels [on Thursday] evening [will not take place]. Given the risk analysis, we are forced to cancel [the celebrations],“ Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur said in a live address on the local channel La Une.
Armed police officers and soldiers patrolled the streets of Paris on Thursday evening as thousands of people gathered in the French capital to welcome in the New Year.
Authorities warned they would increase the number of soldiers, police, and emergency workers patrolling the streets to 11,000 (2,000 more than last year). They were also forced to cancel fireworks Thursday and shorten a New Year light show at the Arc de Triomphe over fears of attacks. The sale and use of fireworks in the Paris region was banned for the night as well.
Berlin has also beefed up security on city streets with particular attention paid to the location of a grand open-air party at the Brandenburg Gate. After Christmas celebrations, Austrian media reported they had received news of a terror warning which had been issued for European capitals as potential attackers were heading to the EU. Police said they have stepped up security.
In Istanbul, police said they had increased the number of officers on the streets by around 10,000. On Wednesday, Turkish police detained two suspected Islamic State members thought to be plotting New Year's Eve suicide attacks in the capital, Ankara.