As news continues to trickle in regarding exactly what went down in Hanover tonight, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of the events which caused officials to abandon the international friendly between Germany and Holland.
With heightened security in the city in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks on Friday night, the game at the HDI-Arena was called off by police at the last moment and fans were evacuated from the stadium.
Initial reports suggested a suspicious package was found inside the stadium, however it later became apparent that the match was called off after police received “concrete information” of an Islamist terror attack on the stadium. Hanover’s police chief Volker Kluwe told media that the plan was to “detonate explosives” at the stadium.
Despite local newspaper Kreiszeitung reporting that explosives had been found in an ambulance outside the stadium, officials said no explosives were found at the HDI-Arena and no arrests have yet been made.
According to the Guardian, heavily armed police evacuated the stadium, before the German national team had even entered the stadium.
German chancellor Angela Merkel and other leading politicians were set to attend the game, but Merkel flew back to Berlin after she was alerted of the threat.
A general terror alert was then issued across the entire city. The TUI-Arena – a concert hall where The Söhne Mannheims, a German pop group, were due to play – as well as Hanover train station (where a suspicious package was found), were both also evacuated. German police have since announced the concert will go ahead as planned.
Police chief Kluwe says the general terror alert was issued because he feared terrorists who were thwarted from attacking the stadium may strike elsewhere.
German officials held a press conference shortly after the game was cancelled.
As reported by the Mirror Online, German Minister of Interior Thomas de Meizere said:
There is a general threat. Regularly we receive information about threats against Germany, especially after an attack like in Paris. We have to analyse them, and need to judge them properly and fast. Ahead of this match we got more information that made us make the decision to cancel the game. The information came late, we couldn’t do it earlier.
Boris Pistorius, the local interior minister, added:
This was a bitter decision, especially for me as Minister of Interior and Sports, but we made it for the security of the people. It would have been irresponsible, we had no doubt. We will have a greater police presence in Hanover all night.
They confirmed that the German and Dutch players were taken to a local police station and both teams have now returned home.
— dpa (@dpa) November 17, 2015
The politicians refused, though, to reveal who had tipped them off about the potential terror threat as “that would make our work harder in future”.
However, German newspaper Bild has reported that French intelligence officials were the ones who issued the warning. According to the paper, a North African terror cell was planning to attack Hanover with assault rifles and suicide vests, while an Iraqi ‘sleeper agent’ may have planned the attack.
Despite the terrifying nature of the events, credit must be given to Germany’s security forces and police for acting so swiftly here to avoid any catastrophe.
Meanwhile, England and France graced Wembley with an amazing display of solidarity in the wake of the Paris attacks on Friday, in which 129 people were killed…