Europe

Migrant crisis: Terrorism was already here, says Merkel

Angela Merkel pictured earlier in August Image copyright AP
Image caption "Germany will remain Germany," Chancellor Angela Merkel says

Chancellor Angela Merkel says terrorism "was already here" in Germany, defending her handling of the migrant crisis.

A year ago, Mrs Merkel lifted border controls allowing in thousands of people, a decision criticised at home and abroad.

She told Sueddeutsche Zeitung that despite the influx "Germany will remain Germany".

Meanwhile, thousands more migrants have been rescued in the Mediterranean.

The Italian coast guard said about 3,000 were plucked from the sea on Tuesday, with the youngest being twins aged just one week old.

Calmer seas have seen a surge in boats setting sail, with more than 6,000 migrants rescued on Tuesday alone.

In 2015 though, international attention was focused on the route into Europe via the Balkans.

As thousands became stranded at eastern European borders, Mrs Merkel and Austria's then-chancellor decided to open them up, after insisting "we can do this".

Germany took in more than one million migrants last year but Mrs Merkel's party has dipped in polls.

In her interview, Mrs Merkel said that Germany had previously ignored the issue of migrants.

She said that her country would remain true to its values.

"Change is not a bad thing, it is a necessary part of life,'' she said. "Germany will remain Germany, with everything that is dear to us."

On militancy, she said: "It's simply incorrect to say that terrorism came only with the refugees. It was already here in myriad forms and with the various potential attackers that we have been watching."

In July, separate attacks were carried out by two Syrian asylum seekers who both reportedly had links to so-called Islamic State.

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