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Berlin: Terror Alarm at Main Christmas Market Called Off

A terror alarm at the Christmas market at ‘Breitscheidplatz’ square, in the heart of Berlin’s former western part, lead to a large-scale police operation on site. The market was evacuated, but nothing dangerous was found.

Two arrests were made during a terror alarm at the Christmas market at Berlin’s ‘Breitscheidplatz’, several German dailies reported. First, two “suspicious objects” had been found. As a result, the Christmas market had been evacuated completely.

Famous Church Evacuated

In the late evening, the police department announced all S-Bahn lines were skipping ‘Bahnhof Zoo’ station, which is located nearby. This applied to the train lines S3, S5 and S7. At around 10:00 p.m., the train service was resumed, according to the ‘Morgenpost’ daily, when the suspicious items found turned out to be harmless.

Some German media said, visitors had reacted to the evacuation in a calm manner. They had left the area slowly. Other sources claimed, the evacuation process had been rather hectic. A concert at the famous Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which is located right on the square, had to be stopped too, and everyone present in the temple was forced to leave.

Special police forces were involved in the operation at ‘Breitscheidplatz’. It might have been the anti-terror unit ‘GSG 9’. The ‘Morgenpost’ paper reported, one of the two suspects had been “from the United States”, the other one from the German province of North-Rhine Westphalia, with Syrian roots.

One of the men had been wanted by police even before today’s incident, for crimes involving explosives. Then it turned out he was mistaken for a known suspect authorities are looking for. The ‘B.Z.’ daily wrote, the suspects had run away from police officers. They had been followed and arrested until the mix-up became evident.

2016 Terror Attack at Same Market

An Islamist terror attack at the very same Christmas market took place three years and two days ago, on December 19th, 2016. The culprit shot a truck driver and used his heavy vehicle to murder visitors at the market by running them over. Eleven visitors were killed, dozens injured. A few days later, the terrorist was shot dead by police in Italy. Two days ago, on December 19th, 2019, the victims were commemorated at a memorial on the square.

Since Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller inaugurated the Christmas market at ‘Breitscheidplatz’ on November 25th, security has been tight. The city state placed concrete blocks and anti-terror pillars around the square. Dozens of police officers are present every day.

On Thursday, Berlin’s bus line 200 was rerouted away from ‘Budapester Strasse’ and the Christmas market at ‘Breitscheidplatz’. Also other traffic was stopped because Müller was on site for the commemoration. At the same moment, Germany’s President Frank Walter Steinmeier visited the ongoing Jewish Community Day event at the Intercontinental around the corner.

Berlin has numerous Christmas markets. Most of them will close on December 26th, which is the second Christmas Day Germany officially observes. Some markets will remain open until January 6th, 2020.

The Christmas market at ‘Breitscheidplatz’ will open again on Sunday.