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Islamist detained after attack against Dortmund team bus

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Islamist detained after attack against Dortmund team bus
A sniffer dog at Dortmund's Signal-Iduna-Park. Photo: DPA
09:24 CEST+02:00
Officials said on Wednesday that one suspected Islamist has been detained after the explosive attack against the Borussia Dortmund team on Tuesday.

Police are still investigating the exact motive behind the attack on Tuesday, but have said there are two Islamist suspects - one of whom was detained - and that there is a possible "terrorist link".

Three explosions rocked the Borussia Dortmund team bus on its way to a Champions League match against AS Monaco on Tuesday evening. Player Marc Bartra was injured with a broken wrist bone, while a police officer was also hurt amid the blasts.

Investigators examined two different letters claiming responsibility for the explosions - one found near the scene which used Islamist phrasing, and another posted online that seemed connected to far-left extremists.

Officials said in the afternoon that they had "significant doubts" about the supposed far-left letter, and the website where it was published has called it a fake.

The match planned for Tuesday was postponed and is set to begin on Wednesday evening with increased security measures, including a ban on backpacks inside the stadium.

Read below for our live blog of coverage throughout Wednesday, and check here for a summary of what we know so far.

4.05pm - German media report further details on suspects.

DPA cites unnamed sources who say the suspect detained was a 25-year-old man from Iraq, while the other suspect who was not detained is reportedly a 28-year-old German from Fröndenberg.
 
According to local newspapers Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger and Express, the pair are suspected of being close to terror group Isis.
 
3.30pm - Marc Bartra doing 'well' and will watch game on TV.
 
Bartra will watch the Champions League match between his team Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco on TV Wednesday evening as he remains in hospital, said team media director Sascha Fligge.
 
"He will cross his fingers for his teammates," Fligge added.
 
"His situation is going relatively well. He is very happy and moved that so many teammates and authorities have been visiting him since yesterday."
 
2.20pm - 'Significant doubts' about supposed far-left letter.
 
Federal prosecutors' spokeswoman  Frauke Köhler said that investigators now have "significant doubts about the authenticity" of a letter posted online on Tuesday, purportedly from the far-left extremist scene claiming responsibility for the attack.
 
The website on which it was first published has also described it as a fake.
 
2.05pm - Two suspects, one detained.
 
Frauke Köhler. Photo: DPA
 
Representative for federal prosecutors, Frauke Köhler, said officials had two Islamists in their sights, and that one of them had been temporarily detained.
 
The apartments of both suspects were searched and prosecutors are considering whether to apply for a full arrest warrant for the one currently in detention.
 
Köhler also spoke of the attack having a possible terrorist background and had probable Islamist links.
 
2.00pm - Federal prosecutors to give statement.
 
Federal prosecutors, who have taken over the investigation, are set to give a press conference with further details at 2pm.
 
1.30pm - Interior Ministry says no indication of terror threat at Wednesday's match.
Above: Image posted by team of the players training for Wednesday's game.
 
The Interior Ministry said that they have no information that would indicate a particular terror threat to Wednesday's scheduled match with Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco.
 
Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière also plans to attend the game as a show of solidarity.
 
The game had originally been set for Tuesday before the explosions. An interior ministry spokesperson said that the decision to hold the game less than 24 hours after the attack had been made by security authorities with consultation from both state and federal officials. 
 
1.15pm - Merkel calls bus attack 'repugnant'.
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday said through her official spokesman that the explosions that hit the Dortmund bus were a "repugnant act".
 
"The chancellor was, like the people of Dortmund and millions of people everywhere, horrified by the news of the attack on the BVB team bus," the spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters.
 
"It is a repugnant act. We are only relieved that it did not have more severe consequences," he added
 
"Our thoughts are with both of those injured," said Seibert of player Marc Bartra and the police officer who were injured.
 
Seibert added that in a telephone call with team CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, Merkel wished the teammates and coaching staff well, and praised fans of both Dortmund and AS Monaco for their calm and caring reactions to the attack. She also thanked police for their ongoing work.
 
13.03pm - Leftwing website says Antifa letter of responsibility was a fake

The second letter of responsibility being investigated by police was most likely a fake.

“We think the letter was a Nazi fake,” the manager of the website Indymedia, on which the letter first appeared, told DPA.

“Neither the content nor the language fitted to a left-wing background, therefore we deleted it soon after it was published.”

Anyone can publish anonymously on Indymedia and are only later read by the site’s editors.

Police have still not officially ruled out a far-left motive to the crime.

12.00pm - Letter with possible Islamist links names Merkel in claim of responsibility.
 
Police are still investigating the veracity of a letter found at the scene of the explosion that has potential Islamist links. The letter reportedly names Chancellor Angela Merkel after mentioning the Berlin Christmas market attack in December claimed by Isis, according to DPA.
 
The letter states: "But seemingly Merkel you do not care about your little, filthy subjects. Your Tornadoes still fly over the grounds of the caliphate to murder Muslims," referring to German Tornado jets that have been used in the fight against Isis.
 
Police have cautioned that they are still verifying the letter with experts, noting that it is still possible the note was left as a red herring to lead investigators down the wrong path.
 
11.30am - Backpacks banned from Wednesday's game
 
Officials said that backpacks will not be allowed into the stadium for the Dortmund game on Wednesday evening due to security concerns. All depository facilities will be closed.
"Due to security reasons and at the behest of the police, no backpacks will be allowed to be brought into the stadium," the Dortmund team said in a statement.
 
"Whoever brings something like this along will not be let into the stadium."
 
Officials will allow handbags to be brought in, as long as they are no bigger than an A4-size sheet of paper.
 
Police have also asked that fans arrive at the stadium as early as possible to go through security checks as waiting times are to be expected.
 
11.17am - Dortmund boss calls attack 'terror'.
 
Borussia Dortmund will "not give in to terror", the Bundesliga team's chief executive vowed on Wednesday after the bus carrying the squad to a match was hit by three explosions, injuring two people.

"In the dressing room, I called on the team to show the public that we will not give in to terror," Hans-Joachim Watze said on Twitter, as the German club announced that the players had returned to training a day after the blasts.

Police guard the site of the attack. Photo: DPA

10.32am -  Security beefed up in Munich after Dortmund blast.
 
Security has been tightened around the star-studded Real Madrid squad, led by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, for Wednesday's Champions League match at Bayern Munich following the Dortmund team bus blast.

Around 30 police wearing bullet proof vests were added to the security detail at the Munich hotel where the Real team are staying due to Tuesday's blast in Dortmund.

Security remained tight throughout the night in Munich. According to German daily Bild, both the Real Madrid and Bayern Munich team buses were driven away to a safe place during the night.

Security will be tight at Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park with a crowd of 80,000 expected, likewise at Munich's Allianz Arena which is a 70,000-seater sell-out.

Bayern's head coach Carlo Ancelotti has offered Marc Bartra and Dortmund his best wishes.

"We give all our support to @BVB and wish @MarcBartra an early recovery," the Italian tweeted.

10.15am - Officials stress that motive behind attack still in no way certain.
 
Security sources stressed to DPA that they must examine the authenticity of the two letters claiming responsibility, and that the motive behind the attack is in no way yet certain.
 
The two letters could be fake to lead police down the wrong path, according to DPA, and they have not ruled out whether suspects could also be violent football fans, extortionists, other criminals, or people with right-wing extremist beliefs.
 
The letter found near the scene mentions possible Islamist motives, but sources told DPA that it did not display any Isis symbols, nor a signature.
 
9.45am - Police probe second letter 'from far left': report.

According to DPA sources, police are now investigating another letter claiming responsibility for the attack, this one purportedly from the far-left Antifa (anti-fascist) scene. 

The letter was found on Tuesday evening online, and reportedly says that the attack was against the team because of what Borussia Dortmund symbolizes, namely racism, Nazis, and right-wing populism, the author says.

9.35am - Federal prosecutors take over the investigation.

They are set to release further details about the case early in the afternoon.

9.20am - Police examine letter with possible link to Islamists.

Police found a letter near the site of the blasts, claiming responsibility for the three explosions, which happened at 7.15pm on Tuesday evening, DPA and Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on Wednesday based on information from police sources.

The letter begins with the words "In the name of Allah the merciful, the compassionate," according to SZ.

The letter also mentions a terror attack on a Christmas market in Berlin in December, and alleges that German Tornado military jets are involved in the murder of Muslims in the areas of Syria controlled by Isis.

The letter goes on to say that prominent people "in Germany and other crusader nations" are on "an Isis death list" until Germany withdraws its Tornado jets from the fight against Isis and a US military base in Ramstein, Germany is closed.

But investigators caution that it is too early to say if the letter is genuine or if it is meant to deceive the police into following a wrong line of enquiry, reports SZ.

Analysts, including experts on Islam, are now studying the letter's veracity.

'Targeted attack'

The assault, described by Dortmund city's police chief as a "targeted attack" against the team, shook German football ahead of crucial Champions League ties.

German authorities have held off from describing it as a terror attack, saying it is too early to determine a motive.

But Germany has been on high alert since a series of jihadist attacks last year, including the Christmas market truck assault in Berlin in December that killed 12 people.

The explosives detonated immediately after the Dortmund team bus pulled away from the squad's hotel and headed for their quarter-final, first-leg, tie against Monaco.

Spanish international Marc Bartra underwent surgery on a broken wrist after he was hit by flying glass. A policeman, who was on a motorcycle and had been escorting the team bus, suffered trauma from the noise of the blasts.

Dortmund's quarter-final match will now be played on Wednesday evening, just hours before another Champions League clash in Germany between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

"We are assuming that they were a targeted attack against the Dortmund team," said the western German city's police chief Gregor Lange, adding however that it did not amount to an organised terror assault.

Shocked players

The bus had set off for the Borussia stadium about 10 kilometres away when "three explosive charges detonated" police said.

The explosive were hidden in a hedge and were detonated as the bus passed.

The blast shattered the bus windows and the vehicle was burned on the right hand side.

"The bus turned onto the main road, when there was a huge noise - a big explosion," Dortmund's Swiss goalkeeper Roman Burki told Swiss media.

"After the bang, we all crouched down in the bus. Anyone who could, threw himself on the floor.

"We did not know if more would come."

Burki said Bartra was "hit by splinters of broken glass". Dortmund's press spokesman said the 26-year-old had broken the radius bone in his right wrist.

The club said other players were safe and there was no danger inside the Signal Iduna Park stadium.

"The whole team is in a state of shock, you can't get pictures like that out of your head," Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said.

"I hope the team will be in a position to be able to compete tomorrow on the pitch.

"In a crisis situation like this, Borussia pulls together."

'Hard to absorb'

Germany's best-selling Bild daily quoted anonymous sources saying that investigators were hunting for a likely getaway car used by the attacker.

The vehicle had foreign car plates, said the newspaper, which also added that police believed the explosives were a particular type of pipe-bomb.

The announcement that the game was postponed was only made to the stunned stadium about 15 minutes before Tuesday's match was due to start.

Dortmund's president Reinhard Rauball said he believed the team would be ready for Wednesday's game.

"The players will be able to push this out of their minds and be in a position to put in their usual performances," he said.

Security tightened

"The worst thing would be if whoever committed this attack was now able to get to affect them through it."

But ex-Dortmund player Steffen Freund, who won the Champions League with Borussia in 1997, said there would be scars.

"When there has been a direct attack on the team bus, then it's not just forgotten by Wednesday," said the 47-year-old.

"Mentally and psychologically that is hard to absorb, it's a lot to deal with."

Dortmund police said security would be tightened at Wednesday's match, with a major deployment of officers to "ensure that the game is played safely".

Separately, security was also being tightened at the Bayern-Real tie in Munich.

Bild said both teams' hotels were under heavy police guard, and the squads' buses driven to a safe location.

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