German police evacuate two train stations due to terror threat…


BERLIN—German police evacuated two train stations in Munich late Thursday night citing a “serious terror threat” aimed at New Year’s Eve revelers in the country’s third largest city.

“We’ve received concrete warnings that we cannot just sweep under the carpet,” a police spokeswoman told German media. “Based on the information we’ve received, the warnings are being taken seriously that an attack is planned for tonight.”

Festivities in the Belgian capital, Brussels, were cancelled after authorities unveiled another suspected holiday terror plot. And celebrations in Paris, which is still recovering from its own deadly attack, were scaled back.

But as 2015 drew to a close, revelers around the world were refusing to let security fears ruin the party.

More than a million people turned out for the annual fireworks extravaganza in Sydney, filling boats, balconies and waterside parks and cheering loudly as the first bursts of colour erupted over the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

Tens of thousands more whooped it up as the festivities moved on to Beijing, Hong Kong and other major cities around the world.

But the celebrations were more muted in a number of places due to the threat of attacks.

Police in Munich issued a series of warnings via Twitter and Facebook asking revelers to avoid large gatherings and stay away from the city’s main train station, Hauptbahnhof, as well as a local station in Pasing. Trains were being diverted from the two stations, and heavily armed police barricaded the entrances.

Munich was the scene of one of the most deadly attacks in postwar Germany. A bombing in 1980 killed 13 people and injured 211 at the city’s Oktoberfest grounds. Police blamed the attack on a far-right extremist who died in the explosion.

German police secure the main train station in Munich January 1, 2016.

Michael Dalder/Reuters

German police secure the main train station in Munich January 1, 2016.

While the latest threat sent a chill through Munich, more than a million revelers welcomed the New Year at a giant open-air party in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Fireworks and other pyrotechnics were banned at numerous shelters in Germany to avoid causing further trauma to the refugees that poured into the country this year from war zones in the Middle East, Asia and beyond.

The Belgian authorities cancelled a fireworks display and other events that had attracted 100,000 people last year after uncovering what they said was a plan to attack popular attractions during celebrations in the capital, Brussels.

“It’s better not to take any risks,” Mayor Yvan Mayeur told the Belgian broadcaster RTBF.

On Tuesday, the federal prosecutor’s office announced the arrest of two suspects in connection with the plot along with the seizure of military-style training uniforms, computer equipment and propaganda material from the extremist group Islamic State.

They were identified Thursday as Said Saouti, 30, and Mohammed Kerai, 27, members of a motorcycle club known as the Kamikaze Riders. Other members are believed to have ties to Sharia4Belgium, a group that has recruited fighters for the Islamist cause in Syria.

Six more people were detained Thursday following searches in the Brussels region, prosecutors said. Three of them were released after questioning.

31/12/2015 20:31  By: TORONTO STAR