German police said they thwarted a suspected Boston-marathon style plot to bomb an annual May 1 cycle race in Frankfurt that attracts thousands of riders from across Europe.
A warrant was obtained to keep a married couple with links to “radical Islamic” groups in detention after they were arrested on suspicion of preparing explosives, Udo Buehler, a police spokesman, said on Friday by phone from state capital Wiesbaden. The cycle race was canceled.
The pair refused to answer questions after a completed bomb was found in their home in Oberursel near Frankfurt, along with 100 rounds of ammunition, a dummy shell for a bazooka and other explosive equipment on Thursday, Buehler said. It’s unclear whether other bombs were built and distributed, and police have secured the cycle route and didn’t find any additional pieces of evidence, Buehler said.
Authorities began monitoring the couple after a DIY store told police they had bought three liters (three quarts) of hydrogen peroxide in March. The search for possible accomplices is continuing. Germany’s chief federal prosecutor, responsible for terror investigations, has been informed of the case, Buehler said.
It’s not the first time this year that a public event has been prevented from going ahead in Germany, as authorities across Europe step up surveillance amid a rising threat of attack from Islamist extremists.
The northern city of Braunschweig canceled its annual Carnival parade in February after receiving information about a “concrete danger of an attack,” authorities said at the time. As many as 250,000 had been expected to turn out.
The same month, Danish police shot and killed a gunman suspected of murdering two people in a cafe where people had gathered for a debate on the role of art and free speech, hosted by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, known for his caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.
Shootings in Paris in January by three self-proclaimed Islamists claimed 17 lives, including 12 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
A three-minute video by a German jihadist showing the perpetrators of the Paris killings encouraged so-called “sleepers” in Germany to carry out similar attacks, according to an April 15 report in Der Spiegel.