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Teen held on suspicion of plotting German Christmas market attack

A Christmas market in Germany
A Christmas market in Germany Copyright Michael Sohn/AP
Copyright Michael Sohn/AP
By Katy Dartford with AP
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Officials say the 15-year-old wrote in a chat group about plans for an attack in Western Germany.

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A 15-year-old boy and his alleged accomplice have been arrested by German authorities, on suspicion of planning a militant Islamist state style attack on a Christmas market.

The teenager was detained Tuesday in Burscheid, a town near Cologne, while the other teenager was arrested in the eastern German state of Brandenburg.

Prosecutors in Duesseldorf said on Thursday that he and the other suspect are accused of agreeing to use fuel to blow up a small truck at the Christmas market in Leverkusen, a city in western Germany, at the beginning of December.

The teenager claimed he had acquired gasoline for the plan, according to a statement from prosecutors. 

The two suspects allegedly planned to leave Germany together after the attack and join the Islamic State-Khorasan Province extremist group, an IS offshoot active in and around Afghanistan.

Investigators did not find fuel stocks at the 15-year-old's home, prosecutors said. 

He is being investigated on suspicion of conspiring to commit murder and preparing a serious act of violence.

Before the arrests, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency said that the threat situation in the country has escalated since Hamas’ 7 October attack in southern Israel.

The agency pointed to the risk of radicalisation of lone assailants who use simple means to attack “soft targets”.

It said that “the danger is real and higher than it has been for a long time”.

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