07:55 GMT +321 January 2018
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    Police at the Christmas market in Essen in Germany

    German Authorities Conduct Counterterrorism Raids in 3 Federal States

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    German law enforcement agencies have carried out a counterterrorism operation in three federal states of Germany, local media reported on Wednesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Bayerischer Rundfunk broadcaster reported, citing a representative of the German Federal Public Prosecution Office, that anti-terrorist raids had been conducted in Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony.

    During the operation, which targeted three men suspected of having links to a foreign terrorist group, the police reportedly carried out searches and confiscated their means of communication and a computer, among other items. The suspects are two Syrians and an Iraqi. In 2013, they supposedly joined a Syrian military unit, which was affiliated with the Jabhat Fatah al Sham terrorist group (formerly known as the Nusra Front).

    According to the broadcaster, nobody was detained during the operation, while other details have not yet become available.

    Germany remains on high alert, with Christmas markets considered to be sensitive locations and potential targets for extremists due to the many civilians present. On December 19, 2016, a truck was deliberately rammed into a Christmas market beside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at the Breitscheidplatz in Berlin. The terrorist attack killed 12 people and injured 56. The perpetrator was found to be a rejected asylum seeker from Tunisia who was killed in a shootout with police near Milan, Italy four days later. Daesh subsequently claimed responsibility for the terrorist act.

    Meanwhile, prosecutors on December 12 charged a German officer Franco A. and his two accomplices, Maximilian T. and Mathias F. with plotting to kill senior politicians and blaming the attack on refugees in order to stir up anti-refugee sentiment.

    "Motivated by nationalist ideas, he [Franco A.] planned to carry out an attack at an unknown time targeting high-ranking politicians and public figures who stood up for what the defendant regarded as an especially refugee-friendly policy," the prosecutors said.

    Justice Minister Heiko Maas, Claudia Roth, the former vice president of the German parliament, and human rights activist Anetta Kahane were among the targets of the officer, who had prepared weapons for attacks, including by stealing them from the army's depots, the federal prosecutor's office added.

    According to investigators, Franco A. had also illegally obtained refugee status in the migration service, introducing himself as a Syrian native, reportedly to implicate refugees in the planned attacks and stir up anti-refugee sentiment.

    Related:

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    refugees, raid, terror threat, Germany
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