Soccer Stadium Evacuated in Hanover Over Bomb Threat – New York Times

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Police officers searched the stadium before the scheduled start of a soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands on Tuesday in Hannover.
Police officers searched the stadium before the scheduled start of a soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands on Tuesday in Hannover.Credit Markus Schreiber/Associated Press

Updated: A soccer stadium in Hanover, Germany, was evacuated by the police Tuesday evening because a suspicious package was found, according to Volker Kluwe, the chief of the Hanover police.

Speaking on German television, Mr. Kluwe said the police acted on a concrete threat of an attack on the stadium involving explosives. The threat was received about 20 minutes after the gates were opened for a match between the national teams of Germany and the Netherlands, he said.

People who were already inside the 49,000-seat stadium left swiftly and calmly, Mr. Kluwe said, and the match was called off. The package was inspected and turned out to be harmless.

Mr. Kluwe said there was no danger for residents in the vicinity of the stadium, but he advised people in Hanover to stay indoors just the same.

German media reports said that a concert hall in the city and part of the main railroad station also were evacuated for security reasons.

At a news conference late in the evening, Boris Pistorius, the interior minister for the state of Lower Saxony where Hanover is located, said that contrary to media reports, no explosives were found in the city and no arrests were made.

The national interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, said at the news conference that “there is a high level of threat for Germany and Europe,” and that the soccer match was canceled on his recommendation.

After three suicide bombers detonated explosives on Friday night outside the stadium near Paris where the German team was playing France, the match with the Netherlands took on great symbolic importance. The German team’s head coach, Joachim Loew, called it “a clear message and symbol of freedom, and a demonstration of compassion, as well as sorrow, for our French friends.” Chancellor Angela Merkel and other political leaders were expected to attend, and the players of both teams planned to sing the French national anthem before the kickoff.

Late on Monday, the Belgian authorities canceled a match between Belgium and Spain that was to have been played in Brussels on Tuesday.

But an England-France match at Wembley Stadium went ahead on Tuesday, with intensive security in evidence around the stadium, news agencies reported.

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