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CRIME

Police probe possible copycat bus fire

Less than two days after 20 people died tragically in a bus fire near Hannover, unknown suspects set the back of a public bus in Detmold alight, police in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia reported on Thursday.

The fire broke out at 7:30 am on the city’s 719 line. The 44-year-old bus driver saw the flames in his rear view mirror and was able to quickly quell the fire with an on board extinguisher, police reported.

Shortly before the fire began, the driver had let a group of students off the bus.

Criminal investigators determined that the incident was likely intentional, but could have been negligent arson, because it started on a bus seat.

The cost of damages has not yet been determined.

Meanwhile, more disturbing details of the deadly Hannover bus fire were released on Thursday. Police discovered a 13-year-old girl was among the dead. She was returning from a day trip to Prikings-Hof with her parents when the bus allegedly caught fire due to someone smoking in the bus restroom.

Police said Thursday that identifying the 20 bodies could take days because they were so badly burned.

Experts from around the country are currently examining the bus for clues to the cause of the devastating blaze.

It was Germany’s worst coach accident for 16 years.

GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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