Germany-Netherlands match canceled after 'concrete' bomb threat 147

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Germany-Netherlands match canceled after 'concrete' bomb threat

Four days after terror attacks in Paris, German media say police canceled friendly soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands after ‘concrete’ information about bomb threat at the stadium in Hannover.


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Officials have canceled an international friendly soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands after the stadium in Hanover, Germany, that was to host the match was evacuated around 90 minutes before kickoff. USA TODAY



Spectators leave the HDI-Arena stadiums after the soccer friendly match between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled in Hannover, Germany.(Photo: Michael Sohn, AP)



BERLIN — An exhibition soccer game between Germany and the Netherlands was canceled at short notice on Tuesday after police said they received a bomb threat. No explosives were immediately found.

"We had concrete evidence that someone wanted to set off an explosive device in the stadium," Hannover police chief Volker Kluwe told German TV.

The game, an exhibition match between the longtime soccer rivals, was called off about two hours before kickoff. Hannover is about a three-hour drive west of Berlin, Germany's capital.

German media initially reported that a truck, possibly loaded with a bomb and disguised as an ambulance, was found near the HDI Area in Hannover and that the intention may have been for it to go off near or inside the stadium. But no explosives were found, Boris Pistorius, Lower Saxony's interior minister, said.

Speaking to reporters, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the decision to cancel the game was taken after a number of disparate pieces of intelligence suggested the threat was a concrete one. He did not elaborate on where the tip came from or what the precise nature of the danger was.

He said no arrests had been made.

"There were concrete plans to cause an explosion," Kluwe said, according to Deutsche Welle, or DW, Germany's state-backed international broadcaster.

Police in Hannover advised people to avoid groups of people and to “find safety.”

Police also closed off an area of Hannover’s central train station amid reports of another suspicious object, DW reported.

Jens Grittner, a press officer for the German national soccer team, said in a tweet that the team, on its way to the stadium when the game was canceled, was taken to a safe location.

Kluwe said that there was a serious threat to the city, and de Maizičre told reporters in a press conference that there was a “high threat to Germany and Europe.”

Referring to another bomb threat about an hour beforehand that turned out to be a false alarm, Kluwe said, "After the first object turned out to be harmless, we got a tip that had to be taken seriously that an attack was being planned."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was expected to attend the game but had not arrived by the time an earlier evacuation occurred, after a report that a suspicious object had been located at the stadium. Merkel and other officials were scheduled to attend the match to honor the victims of last Friday's Paris attacks.

At the time of the attacks, Germany was playing France in the Stade de France, outside of which three suicide bombers blew themselves up, killing one bystander.

Announcements at the stadium in northern Germany advised people to go home in a calm manner and that there was no danger, the Associated Press reported. Most fans were still waiting outside when the order to evacuate came. There were no signs of panic, with most fans seemingly accepting the decision with resignation. Police became more forceful with members of the media who attempted to stay beside the stadium.

Security at the stadium was tight. Police were armed with machine guns and maintained an obvious presence in the city. Reporters arriving for the game were searched, while a sniffer dog was deployed to check their bags.

The photo comes from a passport that was found near one of the sites of a suicide bombing in Paris. Newslook


Contributing: The Associated Press; Hjelmgaard reported from Berlin.

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