German police observe the half marathon in front of the Berlin Cathedral on Sunday. They said that a suspect arrested early in the day planned to kill the participants and spectators with knives. (Christophe Gateau / DPA / AP)
The German authorities had been watching the suspected terrorists for weeks.
Encouraged by a foreign intelligence agency, they believed that at least one of them had a link with Anis Amri, a Tunisian who swept a truck through a Christmas market in Berlin in the last Islamic terrorist attack on German soil, according to Associated Press. The police observed the movements of a suspect throughout the day.
On Sunday, police said they arrested the man and the other five conspirators and thwarted an alleged plot intended to inflict horror. Those arrested had planned to wade through dense crowds of runners and spectators at the Berlin Half Marathon, using knives to attack anyone who caught them, authorities said. The police have not divulged the names of the men who have been arrested or any information about the charges they face.
More than 36,000 people participated in the event, setting a new attendance record, according to the BBC. The race was guarded by more than 630 policemen and went without problems.
"In the run up to the Berlin Half Marathon, there were isolated indications that the six detainees, between the ages of 18 and 21, may have been involved in the preparation of a crime in connection with this event", said the Berlin police department in a statement on its website.
Police said they were also on the alert after a man pelted a truck in a crowd in the northern German city of Münster on Saturday, killing two and injuring another 20.
Investigators have not A motive was announced, but they said that the man was a German citizen "psychologically disturbed" and that they do not suspect a link with terrorism, according to The Washington The Souad Mekhennet and Michael Birnbaum couriers. The man had had several clashes with the local police, including a time when he threatened his father with an ax.
Still, "the attack sparked fears about a continent that has been hit repeatedly by attacks in which vehicles have been converted." Mekhennet and Birnbaum reported.
In Berlin, police made raids before the race began, even in a house that was registered after the attack on the Christmas market, CBS News reported. In one of the houses, the search dogs indicated the presence of explosives, although the police did not give further details.
On Sunday, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the government would do everything possible to protect citizens. "Once again we have experienced that absolute security is unfortunately not possible," he said, according to CBS News.
Even so, the German anti-terrorist apparatus has been reinforced in the last two years.
According to Reuters, after Amri's attack, German leaders called for stricter security measures. No major Islamist attacks have been carried out in the country since then.
The Berlin Half Marathon is held annually in the German capital since the early 1980s and now attracts tens of thousands of runners from around the world. Erick Kiptanui of Kenya won Sunday's race in 58 minutes and 42 seconds, a record that matched the best time in the world this year, race organizers said on its website.
For weeks he trained a dog to make a Nazi greeting. The man was convicted of a hate crime.
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