Police in the German city of Essen have ordered a shopping centre to remain closed on Saturday after a tip from security services of ‘concrete indications about a possible attack’.
It was reported by German newspaper Bild that multiple suicide bombers were plotting to attack the Limbecker Platz centre with explosives.
This afternoon police said they had searched an apartment in the nearby town of Oberhausen and the owner was being questioned. Police later said they had detained another man in an internet cafe in the same town.
However, in a later statement police said the pair ‘are not suspects’ in the case.
‘The current state of our investigations points to the threat being exclusively at the shopping centre,’ said the police in a statement.
The shopping center and the adjacent car park stayed closed as about a hundred police officers positioned themselves around the compound to make sure no-one could enter.
Several officers scoured the inside of the building to bring out early morning cleaning staff.
Police added that parking garages and the nearest underground rail station had also been closed.
‘Police have concrete indications of a possible attack,’ a spokesperson for North Rhine Westphalia Police said.
‘In order to avoid possible danger to visitors, they will not be able to enter the shopping halls or the car park.’
The mall is one of the biggest in Germany with more than 200 stores, according to the shopping center’s website.
Interior ministry spokesman Tobias Plate said the operation was being handled by the local police force but added that his ministry was in ‘constant touch’ with the GTAZ, a joint counter-terrorism centre used by 40 internal security agencies.
A police spokesman said outside the centre: ‘Right now we have completely closed the shopping centre in Limbecker Square.
‘Yesterday we received lots of hints, which had to be taken seriously, that there might have been the possibility of an attack on the centre today.
‘We have decided to remain here and have mobilised lots of our security and police forces who are making sure that nobody gets into the shopping centre at all today.
‘I suspect that the shopping centre will be remain closed for the duration of the day.’
In 2016, three people were injured in an attack on a Sikh temple in Essen by radicalized German-born Muslim teenagers.
The incident comes just a day after seven people including two police officers were injured when a man wielding an axe went on the rampage at a train station in Dusseldorf.
The suspected culprit, identified as Fatmir H, from Kosovo, has been arrested and German anti-terror police confirmed they are not hunting anyone else.
The 36-year-old ran towards a nearby underground station and jumped from a bridge as he attempted to flee.
On social media the shopping centre wrote: ‘The Limbecker Platz is this Saturday closed for safety reasons.
‘The police [have] concrete indications for a possible attack.
‘To eliminate the potential threat to visitors, the closure has been established.
‘We apologize for any inconvenience.’