Germany: Braunschweig parade halted over terror alert

Would-be revellers stand in front of police cars in Braunschweig, Germany, on Sunday after police in the northern German city cancelled the annual carnival procession shortly before it was due to begin over fears of a terrorist attack Image copyright EPA
Image caption The event was cancelled only 90 minutes before it was due to start and participants had already begun turning up

A carnival parade has been called off at short notice in Braunschweig, northern Germany, due to the threat of an Islamist attack, police said.

A "specific threat of an Islamist attack" was identified by state security sources, they said in a statement.

Police urged people planning to attend to stay at home.

The parade - a well-known regional attraction - was cancelled only 90 minutes before it was due to start.

"Many people arriving at the train station were already dressed up and very disappointed - but we didn't want to take any risks," police spokesman Thomas Geese was quoted as saying.

Braunschweig's Carnival parade reportedly draws around 250,000 visitors each year. More than 4,000 participants in fancy dress march down a 6km (four-mile) route through the city.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Braunschweig's main square is deserted after being sealed off by police
Image copyright AP
Image caption The mayor called it a "sad day" for the city

The decision to call it off was taken by Mayor Ulrich Markurth and the parade's marshal, Gerhard Baller.

"This is a sad day for our city," Mayor Markurth told public broadcaster NDR.

"The assessment of the police however left us with no other choice."

Large carnival parades and street parties are held every year in the week before Lent in Catholic regions of Germany.

The cancellation comes hours after Danish police shot dead a man they believe was behind two deadly attacks earlier in Copenhagen, though one German police chief was quoted as saying there was no link.