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Islamist suspect detained over Dortmund team bus attack

Patrick Stollarz, AFP | A team bus of German football club Borussia Dortmund arrives at the club's training grounds on April 12, 2017, one day after the attack that postponed Dortmund's Champions League match.

German prosecutors said Wednesday a letter found near the sight of the Borussia Dortmund team bus blasts suggested a possible Islamic extremist motive for the attack, adding that one suspect had been taken into custody.


Frauke Koehler, a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors, said two suspects from the "Islamist spectrum" had become the focus of the Dortmund investigation.

She said at a news conference that both of their apartments were searched and that one of them had been detained.

Koehler said the letter found at the site of the three blasts demanded the withdrawal of German Tornado reconnaissance jets from Turkey and the closure of the US military’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

She said authorities were still evaluating its credibility.

Video: prosecutors open to all avenues

The prosecutors’ office said metal strips had been used in the explosive devices activated in the attack -- which injured Dortmund player Marc Bartra -- and is being treated as having a "terrorist background".

"The precise motive for the attack is unclear at present," the prosecutors statement added.

Defender Barta underwent surgery

Tuesday’s explosions happened as the team was departing its hotel for a first-leg match against Monaco. The game was called off shortly before kick-off and rescheduled for Wednesday.

As a result of the attack, Dortmund defender Bartra underwent surgery after breaking the radial bone in his arm and having pieces of debris lodged in his hand removed.


"We're all in shock and our thoughts are with Marc," said club captain Marcel Schmelzer.

The captain added that the prevailing mood in the Black and Yellow camp is "to play the match tonight for Marc"

‘Huge bang’

There were three explosions near the Dortmund bus as the team left the L'Arrivee Hotel and Spa on the outskirts of the western city of Dortmund for the stadium, around 10 kilometres away, at 7:15 pm, police said.

A window on the bus was damaged resulting in Bartra’s injuries.

Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Buerki said the team bus had just pulled out of the hotel driveway when an explosion - a "huge bang" - happened and sent glass flying. Buerki, who is from Switzerland, told Swiss daily Blick that he was sitting in the last row of the bus, next to Bartra.

Bartra was hit by shards of glass from the broken back window, he added. Players ducked for cover, unsure as to whether there would be further explosions.

"We're all shocked - nobody thought about a football match in the minutes after that," Buerki said.

"We had to assume, and assumed right from the start, that this was a targeted attack against the team of Borussia Dortmund," Dortmund Police Chief Gregor Lange said Tuesday.

Lange said a further "suspicious object" was found at the scene, but it does not appear to have been another explosive device.

Video: Monaco fans voice sympathy chanting 'Dortmund!'

Inside the packed stadium, Monaco supporters - which plays in the French league - chanted "Dortmund, Dortmund!" as the news spread in sympathy and solidarity with the German side.

Dortmund residents, for their part, used social media to offer accommodation to stranded Monaco supporters ahead of their rescheduled match in Europe's premier football club competition.

Dortmund's chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said there was "no alternative" to rescheduling the match for Wednesday, as Monaco also has to play over the weekend and the return Champions League match is scheduled for next week.

Police chief Lange made clear that authorities will put heavy security in place for Wednesday's match, though there was no threat to the stadium on Tuesday.

"We are preparing for a major operation tomorrow, and we will do everything humanly possible to ensure that the match tomorrow can occur safely," he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)


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