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Germany: Three Arrested as German Police Hunt for Syrian-Born Bomb Suspect

Sunday 9 October 2016, by siawi3


Oct 8 2016, 1:16 pm ET

by The Associated Press

BERLIN — German police hunting for a Syrian-born man suspected of planning a bomb attack have arrested three people connected to him but haven’t found him yet, officials said.

Police found explosives while raiding an apartment in the eastern city of Chemnitz after receiving information from Germany’s domestic intelligence agency Friday night about the alleged attack plans, Saxony police spokesman Tom Bernhardt told reporters.

Image: Police operation in Chemnitz
Police officers arrest a person in Chemnitz, Germany, Oct. 8. A large-scale police operation is underway in Chemnitz in response to suspicions of plans for a bomb attack. Police are searching for suspects at large after raiding an apartment and placing an apartment block on lockdown. BERND MAERZ / EPA

"The cordoned-off area is so wide that we can almost rule out a threat to the local population," Bernhardt said.

Police appealed to the public to call them with any information on Jaber Albakr, 22, who was last seen in the eastern city of Chemnitz wearing a black hooded top with a bright pattern on the front.

Image: Syrian sought after traces of explosives found in Chemnitz
A handout picture dated Oct. 8 shows wanted person Jaber Albakr, made available by police. CHRISTIAN ZANDER/POLICE SAXONY / / EPA

"The search for the suspect is ongoing," Saxony state police tweeted. "At the moment, however, we do not know where he is and what he is carrying with him. Be careful."

Saxony police put out an alert, identifying the suspect as 22-year-old Jaber Albakr from Damascus, urging anyone with any information of his whereabouts to contact authorities. They released a photo of the suspect, a dark-haired man wearing a hooded sweatshirt, and said he was last seen wearing similar clothes.

"We have to assume that he is dangerous," Bernhardt said.

Police have asked residents to stay indoors.

The German press agency dpa reported, citing unidentified German security sources, that the suspect is believed to be connected to Islamic extremist groups. Bernhardt would only say that he was "known" to German intelligence.

Authorities released no details about how long the suspect had been in Germany, and Bernhardt said it was unclear whether he had come in the wave of asylum-seekers in 2015. Germany took in 890,000 asylum-seekers last year, and Syrians fleeing civil war were the single largest group.

Neighbors reported hearing an explosion during the raid, but that was the police assault team blowing open the apartment door, police spokeswoman Kathlen Zink told The Associated Press.

Germany has been on edge since two attacks this summer in Wuerzburg and Ansbach, claimed by ISIS in which multiple people were injured and both assailants died. Two other attacks unrelated to Islamic extremism, including a deadly mall shooting in Munich, have also contributed to fears.