Four suspected Islamists held in Germany: police

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German authorities said Sunday they had arrested four alleged Islamists on suspicion of illegally obtaining weapons ahead of a ceremony in Bonn to mark Germany's reunification.

The four men, aged between 22 and 27, were seized Saturday night and their apartments searched, said police in Cologne, near to Bonn, where the festivities were due to be attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The four were "from the Islamist scene", according to authorities.

"As it could not be excluded that a crime was being prepared with these weapons, the men were arrested as quickly as possible," police said in a statement.

However, "no weapons or other dangerous objects" were discovered during the searches, police said, adding that they had already released one of the suspects.

Federal prosecutors played down the link to Islamic extremist groups.

"There is neither evidence that the accused had links to terrorist groups nor that there were concrete preparations for an attack," a spokesman for the Federal Prosecutions Office told AFP.

Authorities were at pains to stress there was no danger for forthcoming celebrations.

"A threat to the festivities ... in Bonn from this group of people is ruled out," police said in a statement.

Alongside Merkel, Germany's President Christian Wulff and other notable dignitaries were due to attend the ceremony marking the anniversary of German reunification in 1990.

© 2011 AFP

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