Fears a group of suicide bombers will launch a deadly attack have forced anti-terror police to close one of Germany’s largest shopping centres today.
Hundreds of armed police have formed a ring of steel around the Limbacher Platz shopping mall in Essen.
Police have ordered the shopping centre to stay closed due to “concrete indications about a possible attack”.
Police have released no information about the nature of the attack.
However, sources close to the investigation say a group of suicide bombers planned to attack the shopping centre with bombs.
The information is believed to have come from German secret service.
The names of the suspected attackers are not known or whether the threat was even real, Bild reported.
The shopping centre contains more than 200 shops and usually has 60,000 customers on a Saturday.
In a statement, police said: “The current state of our investigations points to the threat being exclusively at the shopping centre.”
Germany is on high alert following major radical Islamist attacks in France and Belgium and after a failed asylum seeker from Tunisia drove a truck into a Christmas market in December, killing 12 people.
Nine people were also injured in Dusseldorf following an axe attack on Thursday night.
Several of the victims were seriously injured when a man jumped off a train and began hitting people, apparently at random, with an axe at the city’s main train station.
Authorities named the suspect arrested at the scene as a 36-year-old called Fatmir H – who lived in Wuppertal, in Germany, but was originally from Kosovo.
German Police are keen to stress that he is believed to be mentally ill and there are no ‘terror’ connections.
Fatmir H was seriously injured himself reportedly jumping from a bridge in an unsuccessful attempt to flee.