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Germany-Netherlands soccer match called off after bomb scare

Police find no explosives, make no arrests at site of planned match in German city of Hanover, officials say

A soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands was canceled on Tuesday just before it was scheduled to start, with authorities saying they had credible evidence that the stadium where it was to be held, in the northern German city of Hanover, was being targeted for an attack.

However, following the cancellation and an evacuation of the stadium, no explosives were found and no arrests were made, German officials told Reuters.

“We had concrete evidence that someone wanted to set off an explosive device in the stadium,” Hannover police chief Volker Kluwe told German TV.

Referring to another bomb threat about an hour beforehand that turned out to be a false alarm, Kluwe said, “After the first object turned out to be harmless, we got a tip that had to be taken seriously that an attack was being planned.” 

Spectators had just started entering the Hannover stadium on Tuesday evening when the evacuation order was given. The order affected mainly stadium staff, workers, VIP guests and media.

Members of the German government including Chancellor Angela Merkel hadn't arrived, but had been scheduled to attend the match to send a signal that Germany wouldn't bow to fear in the wake of the deadly Paris attacks on Friday.

When the Paris attacks began, Germany was playing a soccer match with France at the Stade de France, the stadium outside of which three suicide bombers blew themselves up, killing one bystander.

At least 129 people were killed in Paris during a coordinated series of attacks around the city last week. Hundreds more were injured. In the aftermath of the attacks, France temporarily sealed its borders and other European countries moved to bolster their security as well.

On Sunday the Place de la Republique in Paris briefly became a scene of panic again after the sound of firecrackers triggered fears of another attack.

Announcements Tuesday at the stadium in Hanover advised people to go home in a calm manner, and said there was no danger to fear. Most fans were still waiting outside when the order to evacuate came about an hour and a half before kickoff.

There was no sign of panic, with most fans seemingly accepting the decision with resignation. Police became more forceful with members of the media who attempted to stay beside the stadium.

Germany press officer Jens Grittner said that the team bus was redirected to a “safe place,” and that this was all he could say for the moment.

Security at the stadium was tight, with police armed with machine guns and maintaining an obvious presence in the city. Reporters arriving for the game were searched, and a dog was deployed to check their bags.

A representative of Lower Saxony state's Minster Stephan Weil told German news agency dpa that Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere was set to meet with local counterpart Boris Pistorius later Tuesday, when the background details of the incident be given at a news conference.

Wire services

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