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Head of the AfD Frauke Petry meets with Russian officials in Moscow

The head of Germany's populist party AfD has met with high-level Russian politicians in a secretive meeting in Moscow. Petry's office refused to clarify who else attended the talks. Frauke Petry, the prominent co-chair of Germany's nationalist AfD party, met with senior Russian politicians in Moscow at the weekend. In a statement issued on Monday, the office of the populist politician said she traveled to Moscow to discuss cooperation between German and Russian regional assemblies. She also met "on the sidelines" with Duma speaker and Putin confidant Vyacheslav Volodin as well as deputy speaker Pyotr Tolstoy. Volodin, President Vladmir Putin's former chief of staff, is widely seen as one of Russia's most influential officials, helping direct parliament's work and engineering elections. Tolstoy is well known for hosting a number of political talk shows on Russia's state-owned Channel One. The great-great-grandson of novelist Leo Tolstoy holds pro-Kremlin views and has been criticized by the country's opposition for airing misinformation and propaganda on his programs, particularly about Ukraine and the West. Duma statement A statement released by the Duma said the delegation traveled to Russia at the invitation of Moscow. "During the meeting they discussed issues of cooperation between regional parliaments, inter-party cooperation, as well as the development of contacts for youth organizations," the Duma statement said. The Duma said the meeting was attended by Tolstoy, the vice speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament Vladimir Zhirinovsky, chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky, and Paul Zavalny, the chairman of the State Duma Energy Committee and the coordinator of the parliamentary group for relations with the Parliament of Germany. Zhirinovsky is a flamboyant ultranationalist leader of the pro-Kremlin Liberal Democratic Party of Russia known for populist, nationalist rhetoric. The AfD and Moscow Petry's office did not confirm who took else took part in the delegation but according to party travel information seen by German press agency dpa, Julian Flak, chair of the AfD's "Bundeskonvent," an executive committee dealing with organizational, policy and financial strategy, also went to Moscow. There is no evidence that Russia financially supports AfD, unlike France's far-right National Front, but the AfD and other populist groups forged closer ties with Moscow in recent months and its politicians are often cited by Russian media outlets such as Russia Today (RT), the Kremlin-backed TV channel which has operated a German website for the past two years. A leaked report by Germany's secret services into potential Russian subversion of Germany's democracy found little evidence that the Kremlin was directly trying to manipulate the country's public opinion. But the report suggested that indirect methods may be at work finding "possible Russian influence attempts" being made towards the AfD. The AfD enjoyed an upswing of support in recent state elections and expects considerable support in September's federal elections, although it has been hit with political infighting in recent months.

The head of Germany’s populist party AfD has met with high-level Russian politicians in a secretive meeting in Moscow. Petry’s office refused to clarify who else attended the talks. Frauke Petry, the prominent co-chair of Germany’s nationalist AfD party, met with senior Russian politicians in Moscow at the weekend. In a statement issued on Monday, the office of the populist ... Read More »

Atletico Madrid present stern challenge to Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten European run

Bayer Leverkusen will be out for revenge after the Spanish side knocked them out of the competition two years ago. Following an undefeated run in the group stage they may be in luck. European football has been a welcome respite from the inconsistent, chaotic world of the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen fans this season. Roger Schmidt's (pictured above) side currently sit eighth in the German top flight with four wins and four defeats in their last 10 games, yet their Champions League form has looked far more impressive: with an undefeated run over the entire stretch of their campaign thus far. With somewhat unexpected wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Monaco and four draws from the remaining games the German side finished second in Group E behind Monaco. And after showing an uncharacteristically pragmatic approach to the competition and an appetite for upsetting the odds, there is plenty to suggest they're up for a fight. "Why not win against them?" said Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno. "If we show our Champions League face, then everything is possible. "You can see the team really wants it. We are fighting, we are fighting for each other and that was not necessarily the case a couple of weeks ago." Yet on Tuesday night the German side comes up against what will undoubtedly be their toughest opponents yet in Atletico Madrid. The 2014 finalists topped their own group with just one defeat and five wins in six matches, finishing above Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. Indeed Leverkusen fans will need no reminder of what the Spanish side are capable of as both sides met at this exact stage two years ago, with Atletico going through on penalties after each claimed a 1-0 in front of their own fans. "Atletico has strengthened further since our duel two years ago," lamented senior striker Stefan Kiessling, referring to the club's signings of continental stars such as Jackson Martinez, Nico Gaitan and Kevin Gameiro in the past two seasons. Yet Schmidt will be able to call upon stars of his own. Karim Bellarabi's goal in Friday's 3-1 win over Augsburg complimented the two assists he claimed the week before, as starts to rediscover his form after recently returning from a long-term injury, while young stars Julian Brandt, Benjamin Henrichs and Kai Harvetz have repeatedly excelled. Leverkusen will be without Jonathan Tah and Lars Bender through injury, but can rely upon a relatively clean bill of health throughout the rest of the squad. Atletico's Diego Godin has been ruled out with a thigh injury but the Spanish side will have Jan Oblak back from a shoulder injury.

Bayer Leverkusen will be out for revenge after the Spanish side knocked them out of the competition two years ago. Following an undefeated run in the group stage they may be in luck. European football has been a welcome respite from the inconsistent, chaotic world of the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen fans this season. Roger Schmidt’s (pictured above) side currently ... Read More »

UN alarmed over escalation in fighting in Damascus ahead of Geneva peace talks

The UN has expressed concern over the escalation in fighting around Damascus. Syria peace talks are due to resume with the UN's envoy Staffan de Mistura expressing 'chronic optimism.' There have been reports of civilian deaths and injuries from shelling in Qabun, Barzeh, Tishreen and western Harasta districts of the city of Damascus, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said on Monday. "The UN is alarmed by the intensification of fighting in the Damascus area in recent days," said Haq, adding that over 100,000 civilians were living in need in neighborhoods that have seen an upsurge in fighting since Saturday. So-called Islamic State (IS)-linked groups on Monday reportedly launched a surprise attack on moderate rebels in southwestern Syria near the Golan Heights, seizing several villages and a large town. Peace talks Representatives from the opposition and President Bashar al-Assad's regime head to Geneva on Thursday for talks to end their country's six-year war. They are the fourth round of negotiations between Syria's warring parties moderated by the 70-year-old de Mistura (photo). De Mistura said the agenda at the talks would mirror the objectives outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 from December 2015. The Security Council expressed its support for establishing inclusive and non-sectarian governance, the drafting of a new constitution and free and fair elections. Haq said there were still questions over the delegations. "We do expect clarifications on who precisely will be coming over," he said. The last round of talks broke up in April last year with violence ongoing on the ground. The UN-backed humanitarian taskforce created under de Mistura's watch has partially succeeded in increasing aid flows. In 2015 fewer than 500,000 Syrians in besieged and hard-to-reach areas received life-saving supplies. That number jumped to 1.3 million last year, according to the UN. Human rights groups attack Russia Participants in the talks should prioritize five key human rights issues during negotiations, 40 human rights and other organizations said in a statement released early on Tuesday. "The priorities are to end unlawful attacks, ensure aid access and safe passage for fleeing civilians, detainee rights, justice, and security sector reform," the statement read. "One of the main goals of the Geneva talks should be putting an end to the violations against Syrians who have faced bombing, chemical attacks, starvation, illegal detention, and more horrors," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The US-led coalition should take fully into account that the Russia-Syria coalition has repeatedly committed war crimes under the guise of fighting terrorism, and that any cooperation with Russia in the fight against the IS in Syria should ensure that it is not complicit in such crimes," the human rights statement reads.

The UN has expressed concern over the escalation in fighting around Damascus. Syria peace talks are due to resume with the UN’s envoy Staffan de Mistura expressing ‘chronic optimism.’ There have been reports of civilian deaths and injuries from shelling in Qabun, Barzeh, Tishreen and western Harasta districts of the city of Damascus, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said on Monday. ... Read More »

Russian ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin dies aged 64

Russia's foreign ministry has announced the sudden death of Moscow's long-time UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin. The 64-year-old had been Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations since 2006. In a statement on Monday, the Russian foreign ministry said the country's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, had "unexpectedly" died in New York. "The outstanding Russian diplomat passed away at his work post," the statement said. The ministry gave no details on the circumstances of his death but offered condolences to his relatives and said the diplomat had died one day before his 65th birthday. Churkin has been Russia's envoy at the United Nations for a little over a decade and was considered Moscow's great champion at the UN. Previously he worked at the foreign ministry in Moscow, served as an envoy to Canada (1998-2003), Belgium (1994-1998) and as a special representative to the talks on former Yugoslavia (1992-1994). 'Pillar of the UNSC' Tributes to the ambassador soon followed the announcement of his death. The Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin was grieving after learning of Churkin's death. "The head of state highly valued Churkin's professionalism and diplomatic talent," Peskov said, adding that the president had expressed his condolences to Churkin's loved ones. Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN secretary general's office, said: "He has been such a regular presence here that I am actually quite stunned. Our thoughts go to his family, to his friends and to his government." Meanwhile, the UK Mission to the United Nations tweeted: "Vitaly Churkin was a pillar of the [UN Security Council] for over a decade. Our deepest condolences to his family [and] colleagues..." Churkin was a pugnacious defender of Russian policy, most notably its intensive bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo last year to crush rebels opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. When then-US envoy to the UN Samantha Power accused Syria, Russia and Iran last year of bearing responsibility for atrocities there, Churkin said she was acting like Mother Teresa and forgetting her own country's track record in the Middle East. On hearing of her counterpart's death, Power said was "devastated," describing Churkin as a "diplomatic maestro." He was a "deeply caring man" who tried to bridge differences between the US and Russia, she added. Power's successor Nikki Haley - who took up the post last month - also offered her condolences, saying that Churkin "showed himself to be a gracious colleague." "We did not always see things the same way," she added. "But he unquestionably advocated his country's positions with great skill."

Russia’s foreign ministry has announced the sudden death of Moscow’s long-time UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin. The 64-year-old had been Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations since 2006. In a statement on Monday, the Russian foreign ministry said the country’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, had “unexpectedly” died in New York. “The outstanding Russian diplomat passed away at ... Read More »

No survivors in Melbourne chartered plane crash

Police reported all five individuals on board have died after the plane smashed into a shopping center shortly after take off. Authorities suspect engine failure may have caused the accident. All five individuals aboard the Beechcraft light aircraft that smashed into an outlet shopping complex Tuesday have perished in the accident, Victoria police said. The crash occured shortly after the plane took off from the Essendon Fields airport around 9 a.m. local time (23.00 UTC), causing an explosion and significant damage to the building and surrounding area. The retail complex had not yet opened for the day at the time of accident, and authorities confirmed that no one was inside the building at the time of impact. Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane expressed amazement that the casualties had not been higher. "Looking at the fireball, it is incredibly lucky that no one was at the back of those stores or in the car park of the stores, that no one was even hurt," Leane said. Victoria Premier David Andrews called the crash the state's worst air accident in the past thirty years. "Today's a desperately sad day for our state, a very, very sad day for our state," Andrews said at a press conference. "A number of people have died as a result of the what is the worst civil aviation accident that our state has seen for 30 years." Witnesses described a "massive fireball" as the plane hit the building, follwed by debris and plane parts flying onto the nearby highways and a rising cloud of black smoke. Firefighters and emergency responders were dispatched to the scene immediately after the addicent. Preliminary investigations are centering on possible engine failure. The plane sent out a May-Day signal shortly before crashing, Victoria police reported. Previous reports that the plane was an ambulance aircraft were incorrect. Essendon airport, located some 16 kilometers (10 miles) north of Melbourne, is mostly used for small airplanes.

Police reported all five individuals on board have died after the plane smashed into a shopping center shortly after take off. Authorities suspect engine failure may have caused the accident. All five individuals aboard the Beechcraft light aircraft that smashed into an outlet shopping complex Tuesday have perished in the accident, Victoria police said. The crash occured shortly after the ... Read More »

Germany: ‘Unacceptable’ that Russia accepts separatist Ukraine passports

France and Germany have condemned the Kremlin's decision to accept passports issued by authorities controlled by pro-Russian rebels. Meanwhile, a new ceasefire deal is going into effect in Eastern Ukraine. Germany's government on Monday said that Russia's decision to recognize passports issued by separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine "contradicts everything that was agreed in Minsk and is therefore unacceptable," referring to the Minsk Agreement seeking an end to the conflict in Ukraine. "The recognition of travel documents of the self-declared, so-called People's Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk undermines the unity of Ukraine," said Steffen Seibert, the spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered Russian authorities on Saturday to recognize civil registration documents issued in separatist-held regions Lugansk and Donetsk, a decision that Kyiv called a "provocation." 'France regrets this decision' France's foreign ministry on Monday also called Russia's new policy unacceptable and against the spirit of the Minsk peace accord, saying that "France regrets this decision." Paris said it wanted Moscow to use its influence over the separatists to ensure application of the terms of the Minsk peace deal, saying: "It is the only way of ensuring a lasting solution to the crisis in east Ukraine," the foreign ministry statement said. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday called the decision was a humanitarian move, meant to help struggling residents in the rebel regions facing transport blockades imposed by Ukrainian nationalist volunteer battalions. People with papers issued by separatists are now allowed to travel to Russia without a visa. The Kremlin said the decree issued by President Putin was only "temporary" until a "political solution" based on the Minsk accords could be found for eastern Ukraine. Authorities in counties held by separatists started issuing their own passports roughly a year ago. These documents closely resemble Russian passports, bearing a two-headed eagle on a red backdrop. Ten thousand killed since 2014 Since pro-Russian rebels revolted against Kyiv's newly-installed pro-Western government in early 2014, the armed conflict in Ukraine's mostly Russian-speaking East has cost some 10,000 lives. In 2015, Ukrainian and pro-Russian separatists signed on the so-called Minsk peace agreement. The sparring parties were meant to withdraw heavy weaponry from the frontline to create a buffer zone in order to bring peace to the region. BothUkrainian and separatist troops have repeatedly broken the agreement since then. In recent weeks, fighting escalated in the region, with some areas experiencing the heaviest artillery fire of the past two years, refocusing global attention on the simmering conflict that - along with the crisis in Syria - has strained the relationship between Russia and most Western countries. This prompted Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine to call for renewed efforts to implement the much-violated Minsk deal. At the Munich Security Conference, a deal was brokered over the weekend, obligating both parties to cease fire and withdraw weapons from the frontline starting on Monday. As of Monday morning, both Ukrainian troops and separatists said that the other side was complying with the agreement.

France and Germany have condemned the Kremlin’s decision to accept passports issued by authorities controlled by pro-Russian rebels. Meanwhile, a new ceasefire deal is going into effect in Eastern Ukraine. Germany’s government on Monday said that Russia’s decision to recognize passports issued by separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine “contradicts everything that was agreed in Minsk and is therefore unacceptable,” referring ... Read More »

US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigns over Russian ties

White House national security adviser Michael Flynn has resigned from his position over his contact with the Russian ambassador to the US. He reportedly misled officials on whether he discussed sanctions with the envoy. US President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned late Monday night in the midst of a raging controversy over his phone calls with Russian officials, the White House confirmed. Reports emerged that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump administration officials about his conversations with Russia prior to Trump taking office. In his resignation letter, Flynn said he held several calls with the Russian ambassador in Washington during Trump's transition to the White House and that he gave "incomplete information" to Pence about those discussions. "Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador," Flynn said in the letter. Possibly illegal calls Flynn told Pence that he had not discussed US sanctions against Russia issued by then-President Barack Obama with Russian officials in the weeks leading up to Trump's inauguration. This led Pence to defend Flynn in numerous television interviews. In recent days, Flynn acknowledged that he might have discussed sanctions with the Russians but could not say with 100 percent certainty. According to a "Washington Post" report from last week, Flynn reportedly discussed lifting sanctions aginst Moscow with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on December 29 - the same day that Obama issued them over Russian interference in the US presidential campaign. The conversations were revealed in intercepted transcripts, described previously by US officials, that showed that Flynn had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador. The talks potentially violated the Logan Act, a law banning private citizens from engaging in diplomacy with foreign officials. Michael McFaul, a former US ambassodor to Moscow, said on Twitter that what got Flynn into trouble was misleading Pence. Blackmail threat Reports also emerged on Monday that the Justice Department warned the Trump administration weeks ago that Flynn misled officials about the nature and content of the calls, sources told the Associated Press. Then-acting US Attorney General Sally Yates said Flynn might have put himself in a compromising position and possibly left himself open to blackmail with the phone calls. Yates was later fired from her post for opposing Trump's entry ban for people from seven Muslim-majority countries. Trump named retired Lt. General Keith Kellogg to replace Flynn as acting national security adviser but it is unclear if he will remain in the post.

White House national security adviser Michael Flynn has resigned from his position over his contact with the Russian ambassador to the US. He reportedly misled officials on whether he discussed sanctions with the envoy. US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned late Monday night in the midst of a raging controversy over his phone calls with Russian ... Read More »

Former Wall Street banker Mnuchin sworn in as US Treasury head

Steven Mnuchin, a former Hollywood financier and Goldman Sachs executive, has been sworn in as treasury secretary. The ex-banker now heads the agency that controls taxation, sanctions and bank regulation. The bitterly divided US Senate confirmed Steven Mnuchin to be the next secretary of the US Treasury on Monday night, with Republicans overcoming strong objections from Democrats over President Donald Trump's nominee. Shortly after his confirmation, Mnuchin was sworn in the Oval Office where Trump hailed his track record and called him a "financial legend." "He has spent his entire career making money in the private sector - and that's ok. It's what we want, especially when you're secretary of the Treasury," Trump said. Trump added that the 54-year-old will work on tax reductions for the middle class as well as financial reforms. Policy questions Lawmakers and businesses alike have been waiting for Mnuchin to take office and bring clarity to how he will pursue tax reform as well as international economic cooperation efforts with partners in China, Mexico and Europe who are worried about the extent of Trump's "America First" strategy. Mnuchin, however, did not reveal many details of his plans for the Treasury after he was sworn in on Monday. "I am committed to using the full powers of this office to create more jobs, to combat terrorist activities and financing, and to make America great again," Mnuchin said. In the past, Trump has pledged to loosen up capital markets regulation, saying he wants to undo substantial parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law enacted after the 2007-2009 housing collapse. He's also threatened to impose a border tax adjustment system to boost US exports. As head of the Treasury, Mnunchin will also be in charge of imposing economic sanctions, including Russia. 'Foreclosure machine' The US Senate voted 53-47 to confirm Mnuchin, with all but one Democrat opposing him. The confirmation votes for Trump's Cabinet picks have unveiled partisan divisions in the Republican-controlled Senate, with many of Trump's nominees being approved by party-line votes. Republicans praised Mnunchin's experience in finance, saying it makes him qualified to run the department. Democrats, on the other hand, argued that Mnunchin made a great deal of money by foreclosing on thousands of homes as head of OneWest Bank during the financial crisis. Some lawmakers labeled him a "foreclosure machine" for foreclosing on 36,000 homes shortly after Mnunchin's investor group acquired IndyMac Bank and rebranded it as OneWest. In 2011, the Treasury Department found that OneWest used "unsafe or unsound" practices in mortgage servicing and foreclosure proceedings.

Steven Mnuchin, a former Hollywood financier and Goldman Sachs executive, has been sworn in as treasury secretary. The ex-banker now heads the agency that controls taxation, sanctions and bank regulation. The bitterly divided US Senate confirmed Steven Mnuchin to be the next secretary of the US Treasury on Monday night, with Republicans overcoming strong objections from Democrats over President Donald ... Read More »

Bundestag cybercampaigns take to Facebook and Twitter

The presidential election in the United States has made it abundantly clear that social media is a vital tool for winning voters. So how do political parties in Germany approach online campaigning? DW takes a look. Many members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) wish Germany's 2017 elections could take place right now. The SPD is currently riding a wave of euphoria unleashed by Martin Schulz's candidacy for the chancellorship, and bolstered by the election of Frank-Walter Steinmeier as German president - both of which are perfect occasions for tweeting and posting on social networks. Steinmeier demonstrated his prowess in this regard on the day of the election. He posted a picture on his Facebook page of his wife straightening his tie; then, shortly afterwards, users saw the two of them holding hands on their way to the Bundestag. This was followed by the photo from his voter ID card, then by a picture of the current president, Joachim Gauck, congratulating him; and finally, Steinmeier's own speech of thanks. And, on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and the SPD's homepage, chancellor candidate Schulz is omnipresent. The SPD has set up a "central election platform" for Schulz supporters under the hashtag #kampa17, for all those who "want to set about making Germany a better place." CDU warms up Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) do not yet seem to have begun campaigning online. On the party's Instagram page is a photo of the chancellor handing a bunch of flowers to Steinmeier after his election to the presidency. The CDU was, after all, instrumental in putting him forward for the job: He was the candidate of both coalition parties. The Left party looks more as if it's gearing up for the campaign. You can download a draft of its election program from the homepage, and speeches by party leaders on the subject are positioned at number one on the party's YouTube channel. By putting forward a candidate for the presidency, the poverty researcher Christoph Butterwegge, the Left clearly distanced itself from the CDU-SPD grand coalition, and this is also how the party has presented itself online. With 170,000 likes on Facebook, the Left has more fans than the CDU, the SPD or the Greens. AfD's "anti-election" When it comes to Facebook fans,the Alternative for Germany (AfD) is doing better still. The far-right party also has the most subscribers to its YouTube channel. Both off- and online, it's been campaigning against all the other parties for quite a while now - and is happy to use insinuation and false "facts" to do so. Thus, the AfD's Facebook page still claims that the Federal Criminal Police Office believes refugees are more dangerous than Germans. When it made this assertion, the BKA immediately corrected it: It does not correspond to the facts. A user has pointed this out underneath the AfD post - but the party itself makes no mention of the correction on its page. The Greens have had similar experiences to the AfD's. Their press office reports that a local right-wing group posted a fake anti-German statement on Facebook, allegedly made by the Greens, as a counterfeit "Green perspective." Users exposed it as fake news, however, and it has now disappeared. So far, the Greens' online campaigning is still muted. They congratulate the new German president, but otherwise the spotlight is on their own leading candidates, Katrin Göring-Eckardt and Cem Özdemir. The Greens' press office told DW that they don't want to rely on the internet alone. Campaigning on the street - direct contact with voters - has always been very successful, they said. The campaign budget has been divided equally between online and personal campaigning. Party members can also book workshops for campaigning on the street and door-to-door, as well as for "debating with right-wing populists at the stall."

The presidential election in the United States has made it abundantly clear that social media is a vital tool for winning voters. So how do political parties in Germany approach online campaigning? DW takes a look. Many members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) wish Germany’s 2017 elections could take place right now. The SPD is currently riding a wave ... Read More »

German police raid Chemnitz apartment block following possible terrorism alert

At least one suspect has reportedly been detained after anti-terror forces raided a Chemnitz housing block. The city has been under close terror watch after a police raid last October escalated into a nationwide manhunt. Police on Monday night stormed an apartment block in the German city of Chemnitz in what was potentially a response to a terrorism alert. At least one person was arrested. Police confirmed the raid late on Monday after local media had reported that anti-terrorism forces had entered a housing building, accompanied by explosives sniffer dogs. The officers were reportedly wearing gas masks and carrying machine guns. Authorities declined to provide further information, other than confirming the reports. They said they would announce further details on Tuesday. However, the German "DPA" news agency, citing security officials, reported that a number of apartments were raided in the block. German tabloid "Bild" also reported a second police operation in the eastern German city, although officials refused to confirm the reports. Germany's federal prosecutor is reportedly leading the probe. Anti-terror operations in Chemnitz Monday's operation was a throwback to last October's anti-terror raid in Chemnitz, which escalated into a two-day manhunt for Syrian refugee Jaber Albakr. The 22-year-old Syrian, who had reported links to the so-called "Islamic State" jihadist group, was suspected of planning a serious attack on a Berlin airport after police found 1.5 kilograms of the homegrown explosive, TATP. Albakr was apprehended in Leipzig by three fellow Syrian migrants, who tied him up and alerted the authorities. Albakr was subsequently arrested; however, two days later he was found dead in his cell after committing suicide.

At least one suspect has reportedly been detained after anti-terror forces raided a Chemnitz housing block. The city has been under close terror watch after a police raid last October escalated into a nationwide manhunt. Police on Monday night stormed an apartment block in the German city of Chemnitz in what was potentially a response to a terrorism alert. At ... Read More »

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