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25 Oct, 2016 09:44

German police carry out 13 anti-terrorism raids across 5 federal states

German police forces conducted several raids across five federal states in response to an “imminent terror threat,” according to local media.

Operatives of elite police anti-terrorism units, the SEK, were scrambled across five German states, including Thuringia, Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Saxony and Bavaria, according to Spiegel magazine, which cites police in Thuringia.

Bild magazine cited “an imminent terror threat” as a trigger for the operation.

During the simultaneous raids, 12 apartments and a communal accommodation center were searched, but with no arrests made, according to Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

The large-scale operation reportedly targeted “Islamist-linked terror suspects,” local broadcaster MDR reported.

A 28-year-old suspect, said to be a “Russian national of Chechen descent” with links to Islamic State (IS, previously ISIS/ISIL) is wanted by police, Spiegel reported. According to Bild, the suspect may be plotting "a serious act of violence."

The other suspects include 10 men and three women, convicted of terrorism financing, Bild reported. All the suspects have alleged Islamist backgrounds. 

All the suspects are reported to be asylum seekers with unknown residence status. They had been under police surveillance since summer 2015.

Police forces deployed sniffer dogs to detect potential explosives.

At least one suspect is reported to have been placed under arrest in the central Thuringia city of Suhl, where “white powder” of unknown origin was found.

Later, Thuringia criminal police said there is no threat of a terror attack, adding that preliminary outcomes of the operation would be released "in a matter of days."

Unlike neighboring France and Belgium, Germany had seen no large-scale terrorist attacks until the summer of this year.

In late July, however, it suffered a suicide bombing attempt and three lone-wolf assaults in the space of a week. In all cases, the perpetrators either had direct links to IS or were inspired by radicalism.

One of the most recent terrorist plots was foiled in early October in the eastern city of Chemnitz, when a 22-year-old Syrian national was captured after a two-day manhunt. Although a special operation had been launched by the authorities, the man was only detained when three fellow Syrians tied him up and alerted police. 

READ MORE: 'Saxony’s justice fiasco': Syrian bomb suspect’s death in German jail raises eyebrows

The suspect, identified as Jaber al-Bakr, was on the run after German police discovered “highly sensitive explosives” in his flat. Al-Bakr committed suicide while in custody. The authorities said later he had considered a “big airport in Berlin” as a “better target" than trains.