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Chemnitz bombing plot: German city on lockdown as armed police launch operation against planned terror attack

Suspect on loose as police investigate preparations for bombing

Lizzie Dearden
Saturday 08 October 2016 11:21 BST
Police officers during a counter-terror operation in Chemnitz, Germany, on 8 October
Police officers during a counter-terror operation in Chemnitz, Germany, on 8 October (EPA)

Part of a German city is on lockdown during a police operation to stop a suspected terror plot.

Police said they blew open a door as searches continued in Chemnitz but the suspect, a Syrian refugee named as Jaber al-Bakr, has not been found.

"Currently we do not know where he is and what he is carrying with him," Saxony Police warned. "Be careful".

Three other suspects with links to al-Bakr have been detained - one in the city centre and two at the main railway station - which was temporarily shut down for baggage searches.

Jaber al-Bakr, a Syrian asylum seeker wanted by German police on suspicion of planning a terror attack (Polizei Sachsen)

Scores of armed officers evacuated residents and cordoned off large areas of the Fritz Heckert district on Saturday morning.

A second wave of evacuations started hours later after police found “highly-volatile explosives” during searches, sparking a wider safety cordon.

Tom Bernhardt, a spokesperson for the state criminal police, said investigators found more than 100g of the material at a flat linked to the suspect.

“As to the background, motivation and so on – that we don’t know,” he added.

Mr Bernhardt said three people had been arrested – two at the railway station and one in Chemnitz city centre – who were all known to the suspect and may be linked to the plot.

He added that al-Bakr would be found “as soon as possible”, describing him as dangerous.

Officials said a flat used by al-Bakr was searched, with officers blowing a door off to gain access, but “a person of interest could not be found”.

Families living in the block told MDR Sachsen they were woken early in the morning by police with machine guns, telling them to leave the building, when they were taken away from the area on buses.

Officials issued an appeal for residents not to share any images or footage of the operation on social media.

"Major road closers and evacuations are necessary," a spokesperson said: "Within the cordoned-off area, please stay in your homes and follow the instructions of police."

The Fritz Heckert district, known locally as Fritz-Heckert-Gebiet, was built as one of the largest housing developments in Communist East Germany, consisting of large tower blocks once housing 90,000 people.

Many residents left after the reunification of Germany and many of the blocks have since been demolished.

Security remains high in the country after two terror attacks by Isis supporters earlier this year, with a Syrian refugee blowing himself up in Ansbach and an Afghan teenager attacking train passengers with an axe in Würzburg.

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