Terror threat sees Reichstag cupola closed to tourists

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The public was banned from one of Berlin's main tourist attractions – the glass cupola of the Reichstag parliament – yesterday as part of a drive to tighten security in the face of threatened terrorist attacks in Germany.

Parliamentary security staff said the cupola and roof terrace of the Reichstag would remain closed until further notice although tourists would still be allowed to visit other parts of the building. Parliamentary work will continue as normal.

The new security measures were enforced a day after Der Spiegel magazine published information from German Federal Criminal Bureau sources which warned of a planned Mumbai-style bloodbath at the Reichstag perpetrated by a six-man terrorist cell.

Erhart Körting, the Berlin city government's interior minister described the warning as "plausible" yesterday. He said that security has been "considerably stepped up" in and around the Reichstag building where 60 extra police with bullet-proof vests and machine guns had been put on duty. "The information we have gives us cause for concern but not hysteria," he added.

The Reichstag's landmark cupola, designed by the British architect Sir Norman Foster, is one of Berlin's main tourist attractions, with about a million people visiting it a year.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said security services across Germany were working "flat out" to counter the threat of terrorist attacks. He said there were about 1,000 potentially militant activists under police and intelligence service surveillance. About 130 were considered to be "dangerous" individuals capable of carrying out serious politically motivated attacks.

The government announced last week that it was stepping up security at airports and railway stations because of an increased, but unspecified, threat of terrorist attacks. However Der Spiegel reported at the weekend that an informer who belonged to a militant Islamic group, had called security services and warned of an al -Qa'ida attack on the Reichstag planned for February or March next year.

The informer said two members of the cell had already flown to Germany and were thought to be staying in Berlin. The other four, a German, a Turk, a North African and another unidentified person, were said to be trying to enter Germany.