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Chemnitz bomb suspect could have fled Germany

Published: October 9, 2016, 6:48 pm

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    The German police hunt for a Syrian fugitive suspected of plotting a bomb attack, continued on Sunday after investigators found explosives in an apartment he shared with another Syrian in Chemnitz, 260km south of Berlin.

    Police spokesman Tom Bernhardt told AFP the search for the suspect has been extended “beyond the borders of Germany” and they are working together with their counterparts in other EU countries.

    German news agency DPA, citing security sources, said the Syrian was believed to have links to the Islamic State. On Sunday, police maintained a high presence in Chemnitz and conducted searches at transport hubs, including airports.

    Jaber Albakr, 22, narrowly escaped commandos raids at dawn on Saturday as they prepared to arrest him in the apartment.

    Police confirmed that the suspect had escaped from the building as they were preparing to close in around 7am local time on Saturday.

    “The search for the suspect is under way,” police said on Twitter. “We do not know where he is and what he’s carrying with him. Be careful.”

    The man who shared the apartment with the fugitive, remains in custody on charges that he had helped to plan a “serious act of violence”. It is not yet known if Albakr was carrying weapons or bomb-making material.

    Police found several hundred grams of an “explosive substance more dangerous than TNT” in the place, adding that “even a small quantity … could have caused enormous damage”. Local sources say the material was TATP, a homemade explosive known as “mother of Satan” and used in the Paris and Brussels attacks.

    A bomb disposal squad destroyed the explosives in a controlled blast.

    According to Der Spiegel Albakr had entered Germany on February 18, 2015 and filed a request for asylum two weeks later. He was granted asylum in June.

    Police also rounded up two more of Albakr’s known associates on Saturday but they have already been released.

    German police say they have foiled a number of bomb attacks this year. In late September, a 16-year-old Syrian refugee was arrested in Cologne on suspicion that he was planning a bombing attack.

    A week earlier, they detained three men with forged Syrian passports believed to be linked to the November Paris attackers.

    Meanwhile German authorities insist that migrants are not to be confused with terrorists, but chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy is fueling support for the anti-immigration party, Alternative for Germany. They have thus far won seats in 10 of the country’s 16 state assemblies.

    karin@praag.org

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