Oktoberfest begins in Germany amid tight security

2016-09-17 16:34
A waitress carries beer during the opening of the Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich amid tight security. (Matthias Schrader, AP)

A waitress carries beer during the opening of the Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich amid tight security. (Matthias Schrader, AP)

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Munich - The Oktoberfest, Munich's annual beer festival, opened on Saturday with a stronger police presence than usual after a string of attacks in recent months in Germany.

In the southern region of Bavaria, where Munich is located, two attacks by jihadists took place over the summer and another one was committed by a migrant with psychiatric problems in which nine people died.

Munich's mayor, Dieter Reiter, officially opened the festival's 183rd edition on Saturday morning.

Shopping centre

The Theresienwiese, the open space that hosts the Oktoberfest until October 3, is fenced off for the first time.

Large bags are banned and 600 police officers are permanently on duty instead of the usual 500. Video surveillance has also been boosted.

"We have already noticed that people's sense of security has deteriorated. So we want to show that with more officers we are ready," said Munich's deputy police chief Werner Feiler.

Organisers are worried that security concerns will mean fewer people will come to the festival this year.

In 2015, when Bavaria received record numbers of migrants, about 5.9 million people visited the Oktoberfest...400 000 fewer than in 2014.

Refused asylum

In July of this year, teenager David Ali Sonboly, a German-Iranian, shot dead nine people and injured 35 in a shopping centre before killing himself.

Four days earlier, a 17-year-old asylum seeker went on a rampage with an axe and a knife on a train in Bavaria, injuring five people. He was believed to have been a "lone wolf" Afghan or Pakistani inspired by the Islamic State group.

Also in July, 15 people were wounded when a Syrian national who had been refused asylum in Germany blew himself up outside a music festival.

Read more on:    germany  |  security

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