UPDATE: In a sign of how fluid the situation is, new updates have just emerged, as The Telegraph reports:
No explosives found thus far in Hannover
Lower Saxony interior minister Boris Pistorius has shared some welcome news: despite threats received by police, no explosives have been found near Hannover stadium or elsewhere in the city.
Police had previously said there were “concrete plans” of an explosive attack, and there were reports of at least two suspicious devices.
An investigation is ongoing in Hannover, but no arrests have been made.
As Europe — and indeed, the entire Western world — remains on high alert following Friday’s terror attacks in Paris, it appears authorities in Germany may have narrowly intercepted another attack.
As the New York Daily News reports:
Police found an ambulance filled with explosives outside a canceled soccer match in Hannover, Germany, immediately invoking fears of another terror attack like last week’s massacre in Paris, according to local reports.
Authorities also cleared the TUI-Arena, with a performance planned by German band Söhne Mannheims, but did not say if there was a serious threat there.
The Germany-Netherlands friendly game hadn’t even started when authorities sealed off the HDI-Arena due to a “suspicious object,” police said.
Police deemed it a false alarm and eventually let cheering fans into the stadium, which was crawling with machine gun-toting cops.
But police then ushered everyone outside, and later called off the game.
“There were serious plans to bring something to explode,” police chief Volker Kluwe told reporters.
The German newspaper Kreiszeitung reported officials found an ambulance stuffed with explosives outside the stadium.
Hanover’s chief of police, Volker Kluwe, also told German news agency DPA: “We have received concrete information that someone was planning to set off explosives inside the stadium.”
Reporters on the scene said police were holding a man at gunpoint about half a mile from the arena, though it was not immediately clear why.
Reports suggested that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and several cabinet ministers had been expected to attend the match, Two Dutch government ministers attending the match — Defence Minister Jeanine Hennes and Health and Sport Minister Edith Schippers — were on their way to the airport to return home, according to The Guardian.com.
The axed game came on another day of high fears throughout Europe in the wake of the Paris massacre, which included a suicide bomb attack outside a Germany-France soccer game, with French President Francois Hollande attending. He was not injured. Terrorists also bombed and opened fire at a sold-out Eagles of Death Metal concert.
Hanover is about 775 miles northeast of Paris.
Hollande made a cooly-received call Tuesday for the EU to join France in its battle against ISIS. As armed guards surveilled the streets of the French capital, police briefly shut down the Eiffel Tower over a bomb threat that turned out to be a false alarm.
Though details remain sketchy at this early juncture — and there is no information yet on who may have been behind the ambulance full of explosives — it is interesting to note the presence of heads of state at these apparent targeted soccer games. First, President Francois Hollande at Friday’s Germany-France game and today, apparently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the canceled Germany-Netherlands match.
Coincidence or thoughtful planning? President Obama, are you taking note? German Chancellor Merkel, I’m truly glad you’re safe. Now, wondering if you might want to reconsider your thinking on the mass influx of Syrian refugees to your country?
Thankfully, today, whatever plans someone had for the explosives were averted. We’ll continue to monitor the situation as more details emerge about today’s incident — including who might have been behind it (though of course we have our suspicions already).
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]