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German police launch nationwide anti-terror raids

Security forces have launched a nationwide anti-terror operation in Germany. Police in the states of Saxony, Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt and Berlin confirmed that properties have been searched. German anti-terror police carried out a series of pre-dawn raids in the eastern city of Leipzig Wednesday. Regional news portal "Tag24" reported that the operation targeted suspected members of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS), as well as other extremist factions. A police spokesperson in Leipzig said the raids were part of a nationwide anti-terror operation. Similar raids were carried out in the federal states of Saxony-Anhalt, Berlin and Bavaria. Read more: Number of potential terrorists in Germany on the rise, report says According to German daily "Bild," authorities searched three apartments belonging to asylum seekers in the Leipzig districts of Volkmarsdorf, Mockau and Connewitz. The Federal Prosecutions office in Karlsruhe said that among those targeted were two suspected IS members, as well as another suspect accused of providing support for the jihadist group. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the raids showed that country's security forces "are prepared to strike" against the threat of international terrorism. The move comes less than a week after Leipzig police arrested a suspected IS militant near the city. The 29-year-old Syrian national had allegedly pledged allegiance to the terrorist organization in 2013 and had fought in Syria for several years. Prosecutors said the three suspects are thought to be connected with the Syrian national arrested last week, as well with another Syrian arrested in June 2016 on suspicion of planning a bomb attack in Düsseldorf.

Security forces have launched a nationwide anti-terror operation in Germany. Police in the states of Saxony, Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt and Berlin confirmed that properties have been searched. German anti-terror police carried out a series of pre-dawn raids in the eastern city of Leipzig Wednesday. Regional news portal “Tag24” reported that the operation targeted suspected members of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS), ... Read More »

Saxony justice minister admits mistakes following suspected terrorist’s death

Saxony Justice Minister Sebastian Gemkow has admitted that his department is in need of reform following terror suspect Jaber Albakr's suicide. This has sparked outrage in Germany and calls for Gemkow to step down. For the first time since terror suspect Jaber Albakr committed suicide while in police custody, Gemkow conceded that Saxony's law enforcement officials made mistakes, in remarks published on Sunday. "We all have to learn about how to deal with Islamist prisoners," the state's justice minister told German daily "Bild am Sonntag." He added that it was "obvious" that Saxony's current procedures for providing safe prisoner accommodations were "not enough." Gemkow said it was possible that Islamist terror suspects commit suicide in order to purposefully make investigations more difficult. "We weren't sufficiently prepared for this case in Saxony," the state's justice minister told the newspaper. 'Procedures for jihadists' In light of regional law enforcement's inexperience in dealing with Islamist terror suspects, the head of Germany's main police union, Rainer Wendt, told the newspaper that experts should be brought in. "In cases where the federal prosecutor takes over, a task force of specialists should immediately intervene," Wendt said. Burkhard Lischka, the internal affairs spokesman for the center-left Social Democrats, also called for a rethink of law enforcement procedures in cases of alleged terrorism. "We need special procedures for jihadists," he said. Controversy in Saxony In a raid on Albakr's Chemnitz apartment last Saturday - during which the suspect apparently escaped - police found 1.5 kilograms (3.30 pounds) of TATP, a dangerous homemade explosive. Albakr was handed over to police after a two-day manhunt, but he committed suicide in his cell in Leipzig on Wednesday. He is suspected of planning an attack on a Berlin airport. During a press conference on Thursday, Gemkow said Saxony authorities found "no acute danger of suicide." Despite calls from several opposition lawmakers for him to step down, he said he did not see a reason to resign.

Saxony Justice Minister Sebastian Gemkow has admitted that his department is in need of reform following terror suspect Jaber Albakr’s suicide. This has sparked outrage in Germany and calls for Gemkow to step down. For the first time since terror suspect Jaber Albakr committed suicide while in police custody, Gemkow conceded that Saxony’s law enforcement officials made mistakes, in remarks ... Read More »

Chemnitz explosives suspect apprehended

German police in the city of Leipzig have detained a Syrian man wanted for questioning over explosive material discovered in his apartment in Chemnitz. The arrest ends a two-day manhunt seeking the 22-year-old refugee. German police in Saxony said early Monday that they'd arrested 22-year-old Jaber A. following an exhaustive search in the eastern German city of Leipzig. Two apartments were raided in the operation and three other suspects were held for questioning. Authorities were alarmed after police - acting on a tip off from Germany's domestic intelligence agency - raided the suspect's Chemnitz apartment Saturday and seized more than 100 grams of an unspecified explosive material later detonated in a controlled explosion. A day later, a second apartment in the eastern German city was raided and police held another man for questioning. Experts are now trying to determine whether the explosives they found in the apartment were the same ones used in the deadly November 13 attacks in Paris and the March 22 attacks in Brussels. It was not immediately clear what the Syrian refugee was doing with the explosives. Speculation has been rife in the German media, but so far police have refused comment. Police have only said that the man was originally from the Damascus area of Syria and had been granted refugee status after arriving in Germany last year. Questions remain, however, as to how Jaber A. was able to evade police as he was at home when they raided his Chemnitz apartment at about 7 a.m. local time (0500 UTC) on Saturday. Officers reportedly spotted him and even fired at least one warning shot but he was still able to slip away. During the search, German police boosted security around the country, particularly around "critical infrastructure" like train stations and airports. Editor's note: Deutsche Welle follows the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.

German police in the city of Leipzig have detained a Syrian man wanted for questioning over explosive material discovered in his apartment in Chemnitz. The arrest ends a two-day manhunt seeking the 22-year-old refugee. German police in Saxony said early Monday that they’d arrested 22-year-old Jaber A. following an exhaustive search in the eastern German city of Leipzig. Two apartments ... Read More »

RB Leipzig seal promotion to first division

Leipzig, the club affiliated with soft-drinks giant Red Bull, will be joining the Bundesliga next season. The team that traditionalists love to hate beat Karlsruhe 2-0, capping an inexorable march to the top. RasenBallsport Leipzig have played better games this season, but the result and not how it was achieved was the main thing in the eastern Germans' home match against Karlsruhe. The Red Bulls dominated possession in the first half but lacked the incisiveness needed to break the ice. Then, in minute 52, midfielder Stefan Ilsanker picked out Emil Forsberg. The Swedish striker put Leipzig in front with his eighth season goal. Thereafter it was a matter of holding the result against an overmatched Karlsruhe side, which had trouble creating any pressure whatsoever on goal. And four minutes from time, Marcel Halstenberg put the match beyond any doubt - with some help from Karlsruhe keeper René Vollath. Vollath let Halstenberg's free kick slip through his hands, causing pandemonium in Red Bull Arena. Leipzig ended the day on 67 points, five more than third-placed Nuremberg with only one round of play left. In a somewhat comical footnote, Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick slightly injured himself running away from the customary shower of beer. "The coach doesn't seem to be in very good shape," Leipzig forward Davie Selke joked. "He should have prepared better. But we're not letting him off the hook. He did a great job." The 2-0 win completed a seven-year run that saw the team, which was only founded in 2009, move from the fifth division all the way up to the top flight. Freiburg already secured promotion the previous round. Meanwhile, Nuremberg have wrapped up third place in the second division and will play the third-from-bottom team from the first division in the end-of-season playoff. Possible opponents include Bremen, Frankfurt and Stuttgart.

Leipzig, the club affiliated with soft-drinks giant Red Bull, will be joining the Bundesliga next season. The team that traditionalists love to hate beat Karlsruhe 2-0, capping an inexorable march to the top. RasenBallsport Leipzig have played better games this season, but the result and not how it was achieved was the main thing in the eastern Germans’ home match ... Read More »

President Joachim Gauck criticizes ‘dark Germany’

German head of state Joachim Gauck has praised volunteers for showing the positive face of Germany while on a visit to a refugee home in Berlin. It follows two xenophobic-related incidents the previous night. German President Joachim Gauck commended volunteers working at a refugee home in Berlin Wednesday, as he visited the shelter in the face of rising number of attacks on asylum seeker accommodation from right-wing extremists. He praised the "many volunteers who want to show that there is a bright Germany shining in the face of the dark Germany that we see when we hear about attacks on asylum seeker accommodation or xenophobic actions against people." Gauck, speaking at the shelter that formerly housed Wilmersdorf town hall, stressed that Germany has shown itself to be "open and helpful" in its dealings with refugees and that this would not be allowed to be ruined by "agitators and arsonists." The shelter in Berlin was adapted for the new arrivals around two weeks ago and accommodates more than 500 refugees, with the set up carried out by Workers’ Samaritan Organization (ASB). Meanwhile Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to visit a refugee home in Heidenau in Saxony on Wednesday. Heidenau has suffered several nights of riots from anti-asylum seekers when a shelter opened on the weekend. At least 31 police officers were injured on the first night of protests on Friday night and into the early hours of Saturday, police said. Men with knife entered refugee home in Parchim In one of two attacks that took place Tuesday evening, two men aged 29 and 31 entered a refugee shelter in Parchim, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Several of the residents who were in the refugee shelter's outdoor area at the time noticed in time that one of the intruders had a knife with a 20.5cm-long (8.1 inches) blade. The shelter residents got to safety and informed the security guard, and the two men fled. The pair were caught a short time later by the police and taken into custody. Both the men, described as living locally, had an alcohol level of more than 2 grams of alcohol per kilogram of blood (2 Promille) - the drink-drive limit in Germany is 0.5 grams per kilo. The men made xenophobic comments as the blood was taken. Police are investigating offences of arms violations and trespass, and said that although the two men don't belong to the right-wing scene, a xenophobic background to their transgression hasn't been excluded. Refugee shelter in Leipzig damaged in alleged arson attack The intrusion took place on the same evening that a masked offender threw an incendiary device through an open window of new refugee accommodation in Stötteritz, a district in the city of Leipzig, on Tuesday night. It came hours before it was due to receive 56 refugees on Wednesday. The damage was minimal, with one mattress burnt in the attack, according to police, who said that an eyewitness had seen the flames and quickly alerted the fire service. Burkhard Jung, mayor of Leipzig, sharply criticized the attack, saying on Wednesday: "We are dealing with a cowardly attack by people who have no humanity. Of course the refugees will move into the house as soon as the damage is repaired." In a separate incident, a suspected arson took place in the early hours of Tuesday morning at a sports hall that was due to be used as a refugee shelter in the coming days in Nauen in Brandenburg, and another suspicious fire at a planned refugee home in the southwest of the country on Monday. By the time firefighters in 16 fire trucks arrived at the scene, they decided that the blaze was so far gone that the best option was to contain it and let the place burn down. Some 130 asylum seekers had been due to be moved there.

German head of state Joachim Gauck has praised volunteers for showing the positive face of Germany while on a visit to a refugee home in Berlin. It follows two xenophobic-related incidents the previous night. German President Joachim Gauck commended volunteers working at a refugee home in Berlin Wednesday, as he visited the shelter in the face of rising number of ... Read More »

Bachfest opens in Leipzig

The downbeat to one of the world's most significant Bach festivals, set in the city where Johann Sebastian Bach lived and worked, heralds three weeks of festivities revolving around the famous composer. In the millennium year of the founding of the city of Leipzig, the festival opened on Friday, June 12, in St. Nicholas's Church - one of the places the famous composer worked during his 27 years in the city. The church itself is celebrating the 850th anniversary of its construction this year. "So glorious you stand, dear city" is the thus the festival motto in the current edition, taken from Bach's cantata Preise, Jerusalem, den Herrn (Praise the Lord, Jerusalem). The opening is followed by some 100 events in over 30 venues in and around Leipzig. The musical selections focus on works either written in the city or associated with its musical life. The most famous local headliners are the St. Thomas' Boy Choir and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Other performers include the Collegium Vocale Gent and its director Philipp Herreweghe, Japanese conductor and Bach specialist Masaaki Suzuki, as well as Stuttgart's Gächinger Kantorei chorus and its conductor Hans-Christoph Rademann. The ensemble-in-residence is the Ensemble 1704 from Prague. Along with conventional symphonic and chamber performances and recitals, the festival's "BACHmosphere" series presents open-air performances that delve into jazz and crossover - invariably with a Bach connection. The highlight of the festival's "b@ch for us" children's programming series is an appearance by the Chinese-German Choir Academy, with singers from Leipzig and Beijing. The sponsors of the project include the Mercator Foundation, the German Foreign Office and the Leipzig Confucius Institute.

The downbeat to one of the world’s most significant Bach festivals, set in the city where Johann Sebastian Bach lived and worked, heralds three weeks of festivities revolving around the famous composer. In the millennium year of the founding of the city of Leipzig, the festival opened on Friday, June 12, in St. Nicholas’s Church – one of the places ... Read More »

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