Germany to maintain security alert in coming weeks: police

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Germany will maintain stepped-up security measures until at least the end of the year, following a warning this week about an imminent attack in the country, police said Friday.

The head of the German Police Union, Rainer Wendt, said that in many cities officers had seen their vacation days for December cancelled in order to provide the beefed up security presence mandated from Berlin Wednesday.

"The security authorities are preparing to maintain the heightened state of alert until at least year's end," Wendt told the daily Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung.

He said as long as the country's popular open-air Christmas markets, running from late November to the end of December, are in business "we must expect attacks and will protect the population with a visible presence."

The German government hiked security measures at rail stations, airports and other public spaces Wednesday following a tip-off from a "foreign partner" about an attack planned this month.

The same day, police in Namibia intercepted a suspected bomb in a laptop bag wrapped in plastic that was to be put on a Munich-bound charter plane operated by Air Berlin, Germany's second largest airline.

German federal police said Friday that they had not yet determined whether the package, which they said contained batteries that were attached with wires to a detonator and a ticking clock, was an explosive device.

German public television ZDF, citing US authorities, reported that the baggage may have only contained a dummy bomb used to test security checks.

© 2010 AFP

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