Germany says concrete security threat dashed soccer match

Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:55am EST
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By Madeline Chambers and Christoph Steitz

BERLIN/MAINZ, (Germany) (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans not to be cowed by the threat of Islamist attacks, saying a concrete security threat had forced officials to cancel Tuesday's soccer match against the Netherlands.

With security worries running high in Europe after Islamist shootings and bombings in Paris last Friday which killed at least 129 people, Merkel gathered top ministers for a special meeting on the situation.

"I was just as sad as the millions of fans that the match was canceled. But the security officials took a responsible decision," Merkel said in a brief statement.

"These are difficult decisions, perhaps the most difficult given the conflicting priorities of freedom and security. But yesterday it was right to decide based on security," she said.

The state premier of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil said a firm indication about a "concrete danger" based on secret information had prompted the cancellation of the match, which Merkel had been due to attend in state capital Hanover.

His Interior Minister Boris Pistorius said indications of a security threat had hardened up during Tuesday but he declined to confirm or deny media reports that a tip-off came from a foreign intelligence agency, possibly from France.

In the end, no arrests were made and no explosives found.

Pistorius sought to reassure the public, saying the security situation in the Hanover area had stabilizes and there was no sign that Christmas markets might be targets for an attack, something that is worrying many Germans.   Continued...

German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a statement at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany November 18, 2015.  REUTERS/Soeren Stache