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Germany Shuts Down Shopping Mall Over Attack Threat

The shopping center in EssenThe shopping center in Essen

German police sealed off a major shopping center in the central city of Essen on Saturday, citing the threat of a terror attack, with media reports suggesting a link to the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.

The country is on high alert following scenes of carnage at a Christmas market in Berlin in December, when an IS terrorist rammed a truck into a crowd of pedestrians, killing 12 people, ABS CBN reported.

The German domestic security agency BfV believes the IS group was “almost definitely” behind the threat, local media reported.

According to the Bild daily, IS called for an attack and got a message to Syrian supporters in the Essen region to attack a shopping center on Saturday.

Security services quoted by Bild described the threat as a potential multiple suicide bombing at the mall, one of the biggest in the country.

“The shopping center will be closed all Saturday due to security concerns. The police have concrete information regarding a possible attack,” local police said in a statement published on social media. Local car parks and the underground train station were also closed.

Though there was no announcement of arms or explosives being found, police said two men had been picked up for questioning.

“Many agents are deployed onsite. This is a major operation,” a local police spokesman said, indicating the lockdown included the 200-store Limbecker Platz in downtown Essen, nearby parking garages and an underground rail station.

The police said they had been alerted to the threat by “another department” but no German agency has confirmed if it was involved.

 

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