German police use stun grenades as they storm flat and make new arrest in hunt for Syrian refugee suspected of plotting airport terror attack
- Mass manhunt underway for a 22-year-old Syrian national Jaber Albakr
- Albakr is suspected of plotting bomb attack on an airport in Germany
- German media are reporting that refugee had links with ISIS extremists
- Three men have been arrested in connection with the planned terror plot
- Police found stash of explosives during apartment raid in city of Chemnitz
German commandos have raided two flats and made an arrest in the hunt for a Syrian refugee suspected of plotting a terrorist bomb attack on an international airport.
Police used stun grenades as they stormed into the building in the eastern city of Chemnitz this afternoon in the hunt for Jaber Albakr.
While Albakr lived in a town called Einlenburg, some 114 km from Chemnitz, he used the flat in Chemnitz to construct the bombs.
Police on Saturday arrested the owner of the Chemnitz flat and he remains in custody.
However, it is not yet clear if they have arrested the 22-year-old from Damascus, who has been at large ever since fleeing from his flat yesterday.
And German police raided a second address in the town of Chemnitz today where the manhunt for the suspected terrorist on the run continues.
Raid: German commandos have stormed a flat and made an arrest in the hunt for a Syrian refugee suspected of plotting a terrorist bomb attack on an international airport
Police used stun grenades as they stormed into the building in the eastern city of Chemnitz this afternoon in the hunt for Jaber Albakr
The suspect has been named as Jaber Albakr - a Syrian who was under surveillance by the Federal Office for Constitutional Protection in Cologne, say reports
Special forces today stormed the apartment of a Muslim family who police think were acting as a contact for Albakr.
Terrified locals said they heard a series of loud explosions as anti-terror cops and commandos stormed the ground floor apartment just 12km from where Saturday's raid took place.
In Saturday's raid, police discovered 'highly volatile' homemade explosives known as 'mother of Satan'.
As armed police closed in on the quiet residential area yesterday, Albakr was spotted fleeing the flat. Officers fired warning shots but the Syrian refugee, who is suspected of planning a terror attack at Berlin's Schoenefeld airport, managed to escape.
A spokesman for the Saxon State Criminal Police Office said: 'We were preparing to access the property when the suspect left the house.'
It is unclear whether Albakr, who is thought to have links to ISIS, had seen the police and special forces closing in or had just decided to go out.
This morning, Germans were warned to be vigilant as security bosses admitted they did not know where he was or what he was carrying.
Three people have since been arrested in relation to yesterday's incident and two of the group taken into custody knew Albakr. One of the men might have been involved in the plot while the other two have since been released, police said today.
Raid: Officers surrounded a home in Chemnitz and discovered 'highly volatile' explosive material
One neighbour told MailOnline he had been playing music when the raid began this afternoon.
He said: 'There was a series of enormous explosions, five or maybe seven, I ran out of my room and saw my front door and been blown to pieces and police were all over the hallway.
'All the doors to all the apartments on this floor were destroyed. From what I understand, the police had blown up the front door of the Muslim family next door to my flat and the shock wave destroyed all the other doors.
'I've never been so scared in my life.'
Police confirmed they had detained one person at the address and had used flash grenades.
Spokesman Tom Bernhardt said: 'One of the inhabitants is now being questioned and our investigations continue. There is evidence of contacts between the suspects.
'No shots were fired but officers used explosives to enter the apartment.'
A bomb squad police officer patrols the scene at a station in Chemnitz after a suspicious suitcase was found on a platform
A large-scale police operation is underway amid fears of a possible plot to target an airport in Germany
An elderly couple living in the same block told MailOnline: 'It was a large Muslim family living there.
'They had lots of children, it's difficult to say how many though. The man was very big and always wore a Kaftan. His wife always wore a Burka but she hardly ever left the apartment.
'If she did it was only for one or two minutes. But they had many, many visitors, which is surprising because I think they only moved in a few weeks ago so I didn't think they would know many people.'
At least one member of the family is now in custody and being questioned by anti-terrorist officers.
And it has now emerged that Germany's security services had been aware of the threat of a terrorist attack for several weeks.
According to German paper Die Welt, security sources say Albakr came under suspicion after authorities picked up internet chatter between him and others discussing bomb-making plans.
Meanwhile, police have defended their actions during the raid on Albakr's apartment after he managed to escape despite the block being surrounded by armed officers.
Spokesman Tom Bernhardt said police had fired a warning shot after seeing leaving the flat but 'it was unclear whether the man had explosives and a detonator on him.'
He explained that as the apartment block had not been evacuated at that time an explosion could have caused multiple injuries.
He said: 'In such a situation we cannot take such a risk.'
A platform was cordoned off with police tape after the suspicious suitcase was found at a station in Chemnitz
A squad of specialist police officers leave an apartment after carrying out controlled detonations on the Chemnitz estate
Part of Chemnitz's main station was sealed off by officers yesterday as a remote-controlled robot was deployed to inspect a suspect package on a platform which turned out to be harmless.
Police destroyed the explosives found in the apartment in specially-dug holes on land nearby.
Stunned residents reacted to the incident last night, with one neighbour slamming Albakr as an 'a*******' for his alleged plot.
It is understood that the Syrian had been under police surveillance since last year.
It has been reported that the explosives found contained quantities of triacetone triperoxide (TATP), the same devastating substance used by the suicide bombers in Paris, during attacks in November 2015.
Policemen could be seen arresting a person at a residential area in Chemnitz, eastern Germany. His identity is not yet known
A remote controlled bomb disposal robot lifts a suitcase on a platform of the train station in Chemnitz, eastern Germany
'Even a small quantity of this substance could have caused enormous damage,' police said.
New information is emerging about his arrival in Germany. According to authorities, he entered Germany on February, 18, 2015 where he was picked up by police in the town of Rosenheim, four and a half hours from Chemnitz.
He was captured by Federal police and sent to a registration centre where he then disappeared.
Albakr was born on January 10, 1994 in Damascus and his passport photo is said to show a serious looking man with a broad nose, beard and bushy eyebrows, according to local reports.
People on the Chemnitz housing estate have spoken of their shock at finding out their neighbour was a suspected terrorist with reported links to ISIS.
A man is taken to a vehicle. German police say two people have been arrested but haven't confirmed who they are
Albakr is a 22-year-old who was born in Damascus and is suspected of plotting a bomb attack on a German airport
Local man Ahmed Sen, 42, who has four children and has been living in an adjacent apartment block for six years told MailOnline: 'I had seen some skinheads earlier in the day so when I saw the police arrive I thought it was to deal with them.
'I then turned on the TV and saw they were after this terrorist.
'I was completely shocked and disgusted.
'I am Islam. This man who planned the attacks is not. He doesn't represent Islam, he doesn't represent me. He is an a*******.'
Ahmed Sen, 42, slammed Albakr as an 'a*******' for his terrorist plot in Chemnitz
Another neighbour whose apartment window faces onto the back of Albakr's said she had seen police armed with machine guns scouting out the apartment at 5am Saturday morning.
Saxony police spokesman Tom Bernhardt told reporters the hundreds of grammes of explosives were found by investigators who combed carefully through the apartment, which was raided at around 1pm.
He said: 'They were not just lying out on the kitchen table, they were relatively well hidden.'
About 100 people were evacuated from the five-story apartment building as the bomb squad worked to remove the explosives, which were not considered stable enough to move far.
Bernhardt said the 'highly volatile' explosives were to be either destroyed on the spot in controlled detonations or otherwise neutralized.
German Police later tweeted a picture of holes in the lawn surrounding the apartment block with the caption: ' The detected explosive is to be blown on site. The reaction will be carried out in holes which have been excavated for this purpose'
It has since been announced that some of the residents have returned to their homes after police lifted blockades.
Albakr is suspected of plotting a bomb attack on a German airport, according to Online Focus - with the nearest airports being Dresden 60km away and the bigger international airport Leipzig, 85km away.
Residents leave their homes with overnight bags after the mass evacuations on the estate in Chemnitz
An armed police officer stands on guard during patrols of the estate in Chemnitz yesterday
Police officers with a search dog patrol a station in Chemnitz after a suitcase was found on a platform yesterday
It is understood he entered Germany last year with refugees from Syria as the nation experience a large wave of asylum seekers from the Middle East.
Germany took in 890,000 asylum-seekers in 2015, and Syrians fleeing civil war were the single largest group.
Residents have been ordered to remain indoors as large-scale closures and evacuations take place in the city and the suspect remains at large.
Pictures of an arrested man being taken away by police were released a few hours after the manhunt began.
Officers surrounded a home in the Fritz-Heckert area of Chemnitz and the force said it was dealing with a 'static threat'.
The police force, Polizei Sachsen, said they are currently involved in a large-scale operation in Chemnitz on suspicion of someone preparing a bomb attack.
Pictured: A German police dog unit team up with specialist officers to search a housing estate in Chemnitz
A squad of specialist police begin to sweap the estate as the hunt goes on for Albakr
Pictured: A police officer surveys the scene as police carry out a search of an estate in Chemnitz
They said the suspect had not been found and that major closures and evacuations would be necessary as he was dangerous.
A statement said: 'The search for the suspect is ongoing.
'Currently, however, we do not know where he is and what or what he carries with him.
The force added: 'Please stay within the enclosed area in your homes and observe the instructions of the police here and in the field.'
Video footage obtained by MailOnline shows an enormous police presence with officers directing traffic away from the scene.
German police posted this tweet saying: 'The detected explosive is to be blown on site. The reaction will be carried out in holes which have been excavated for this purpose'
Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Bernhardt, addresses reporters at a sealed residential area in Chemnitz yesterday
Police cordon off the perimeter of Chemnitz Central Station, eastern Germany
Mr Bernhardt said officers had acted on intelligence it received last night and that their actions foiled a 'serious threat'.
He added: 'We must assume that the person is dangerous.'
Armed officers forced their way into a flat in the raid, causing a loud bang.
Officials earlier said it would not speculate on claims they were dealing with a hostage situation.
They said: 'Please help the emergency services by avoiding the area.'
Residents have been ordered to remain indoors as an officer guards the door of the flats
Chemnitz, a city of more than 200,000 people, is in Germany's east, lying to the south of Berlin and Leipzig, not far from the border with the Czech Republic.
Germany has been rocked by terror attacks this year, heaping pressure on chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door immigration policy.
A bloody week of violence that rocked Germany began on July 18 when Pakistani teenager Riaz Khan Ahmadzai, 17, posing as an Afghan refugee, hacked at passengers on a train in Wurzburg with an axe, wounding five.
He was shot dead by police.
Four days later mentally unstable German-Iranian teenager Ali Sonboly shot nine people dead during a rampage through a shopping centre in Munich before taking his own life.
Sonboly claimed he was taking revenge for being bullied at school with no political motive to the murderous rampage.
Officials have yet to confirm the full details of the operation, but a local German journalist has tweeted to say the area is likely to be evacuated for what he called an 'explosive danger'
Tom Bernhardt, spokesman for the state criminal police in Saxony, said officers had acted on intelligence it received last night and that their actions foiled a 'serious threat'. He added: 'We must assume that the person is dangerous.' (picture of the police statement)
Two days later a Syrian refugee, 21, hacked a pregnant woman to death in Reutlingen and on the same night Daleel, 27, injured 12 people when he detonated a rucksack packed with metal shards and screws.
Daleel carried out the attack on behalf of the terror group ISIS and had planned to kill hundreds by detonating him bomb at an open-air music festival.
He was only thwarted after being turned away by security guard Pascal Bohm and instead detonated his rucksack bomb outside a wine bar.
Merkel embarks on a visit to three African countries on Sunday before hosting leaders from Chad and Nigeria for talks in Berlin, as she seeks ways to stem a migrant influx to Europe.
German chancellor Angela Merkel embarks on a visit to three African countries on Sunday before hosting leaders from Chad and Nigeria for talks in Berlin, as she seeks ways to stem a migrant influx to Europe
Merkel will first travel to Mali and Niger before heading to Ethiopia where she is to visit the headquarters of the African Union in the capital, Addis Ababa.
Her talks with leaders of all three countries are to focus on migration issues and the battle against jihadist groups.
On Wednesday, a day after her return to Berlin, she will host Chadian President Idriss Deby.
She will cap off the week by meeting with Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss the African giant's battle against Boko Haram Islamists.
Drawing attention to Merkel's trip to Africa, Jordan's King Abdullah II commended the German leader for taking a 'holistic approach' to dealing with the migrant challenge.
'It's not just Syria and Iraq, it's north Africa, it's east and west Africa and here I want to commend the chancellor's role because there are very leaders in the world who look at the challenges we are facing... as a global problem,' he told journalists.
Merkel has also said that she wants the European Union and North African countries to do deals modelled on a controversial agreement with Turkey to curb migrant flows to Europe.
Under the EU-Turkey agreement, Ankara agreed to take back one Syrian who made it to Greece in return for being allowed to send one from its massive refugee camps to the bloc in a more orderly redistribution programme.
The deal also pledges billions of euros in EU aid for Turkey, visa-free European travel for Turkish citizens and accelerated EU membership talks.
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