Terror alert in Munich no mistake, Germany says
BERLIN — A terror warning in Munich on New Year's Eve that led to the evacuations of two train stations was not a false alert, security officials said Friday, although there have been no arrests.
The evacuation of Munich's main train station and the Pasing neighborhood station shortly before midnight reportedly followed a warning from a “friendly” foreign intelligence service that five to seven Islamic State militants from Syria and Iraq were planning coordinated attacks on locations in Munich, including the two train stations.
Although it was not yet clear if any would-be attackers existed, Munich police President Hubertus Andrae told reporters that the terror warning and consequent evacuations of the train stations had not been “a false alert.”
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told reporters that the train stations were open again and “we no longer have concrete indications for a terror threat today or tomorrow at a specific location.”
However, Herrmann warned that the overall threat across Europe remains high since the attacks in Paris in November that killed 130 people.
Later in November, a warning of a possible imminent attack plunged Brussels into a lockdown for a time. Ten people suspected of involvement in the Paris attacks have been arrested in Belgium.
Shortly before Munich rang in the new year, police evacuated the main train station and the Pasing station. Partygoers were asked to avoid crowds.
Despite those warnings, thousands of people were on the streets of Munich at midnight to welcome the new year with fireworks.
Authorities were investigating intensively on Friday, Herrmann said, but had not found any solid evidence for a planned attack. He said they had received personal data for some of the alleged attackers and were in the process of investigating and verifying the information.
Cities across Europe have been on edge since an attack in Paris in November that killed 130 people.
Meanwhile, Belgian authorities have freed three people after questioning them about a suspected plot to carry out extremist attacks in Brussels over the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
The releases were announced Friday by the Federal Prosecutor's Office. The three were among six people detained for questioning on Thursday. The others who were interrogated were released that day.
According to prosecutors, the plot is suspected of targeting police, soldiers and famous locations in the Belgian capital, including its bustling central square, the Grand Place.
Two people, including the suspected leader, have been arrested, and a judge on Thursday ordered both men held for another month.
Because of the continuing threat, Brussels city officials canceled the New Year's Eve fireworks display and related public events Thursday night.