Bomb alert lifted in German town

2017-03-03 19:07
(Michael Sohn, AP)

(Michael Sohn, AP)

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Berlin - German police on Friday lifted a bomb alert in a town which had received a threat after cancelling a rally by Turkey's justice minister to promote expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

"We received a bomb threat by phone on Friday morning, said Dieter Spannagel, a local official from the western town of Gaggenau.

"The caller cited the cancellation of the event with the Turkish justice minister as a reason".

Widely publicised

The city hall was evacuated for several hours, but an all-clear was sounded just before lunch after investigators found nothing suspicious.

Police added that there were no indications as yet on the identity of the anonymous caller.

The town of about 30 000 inhabitants on Thursday withdrew an agreement to lease a hall to the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) for a rally, with Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag as the guest speaker.

Gaggenau authorities said a large number of visitors were expected as the event had been widely publicised, but that the town did not have the capacity to host such a big crowd.

"The Bad Rotenfels hall (in Gaggenau), parking lots and road access are insufficient to meet that demand," the authorities said.

The decision was met with an angry response from Ankara, with Bozdag himself saying he was also scrapping talks with Germany's Justice Minister Heiko Maas, whom he had been due to meet during the trip.

Harness their votes

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday accused Germany of working for a "No" vote ahead of Turkey's April referendum that would discard the post of prime minister for the first time in the country's history.

Germany is home to about three million people of Turkish origin, the legacy of a massive "guest worker" programme in the 1960s and 70s. It is the biggest population of Turks in the world outside Turkey.

Erdogan's government is keen to harness their votes for the April 16 referendum.

Critics say the proposed new presidential system would cement one-man rule in Turkey.

Read more on:    recep tayyip erdogan  |  germany  |  turkey

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