Terror warnings dampen Oktoberfest merriment

AFP/DDP/DPA/The Local
AFP/DDP/DPA/The Local - [email protected] • 4 Oct, 2009 Updated Sun 4 Oct 2009 12:55 CEST
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On the final day of Munich’s Oktoberfest, the city’s mayor said a series of terror warnings had contributed to a “noticeable” drop in revelers to the world’s largest beer festival.

Just 5.7 million visitors have stumbled through Munich’s Wiesn this year, down from six million or more in past years, mayor Christian Ude said Sunday in a closing report on the beer bash.

The drop in numbers came despite mild temperatures and generally sunny skies, Ude said, and was attributable to video warnings posted by Islamic militants.

Bavarian police in the southern state say that since September 19, six videos have surfaced on the Internet threatening attacks unless Germany withdraws its 4,200 troops from Afghanistan.

Authorities announced a no-fly zone over Oktoberfest on Sept, 26 to prevent terrorists crashing planes into the crowd. The flight ban will be lifted when the festival ends Sunday evening.

Earlier this week, Munich police that they had arrested two suspected Islamists in connection with the terror warning videos. Both suspects allegedly had contact with al Qaida member Bekkay Harrach – who threatened Germany in one of the videos, police said.

Security was also tight entering the festival’s enormous beer tents, with party-goers asked to submit their bags for searches.

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