Police in the western German city of Essen have ordered a big shopping mall to stay closed for an entire day after receiving tip-offs about an imminent attack. “As police, we are the security authority here and have decided to close the mall,” police spokesman Christoph Wickhorst said as about 100 officers positioned themselves around the compound of the mall and the adjacent parking lot at Limbecker Platz square in downtown Essen.
Wickhorst said other security agencies had tipped off police late on Friday that an attack would certainly happen in the shopping center on Saturday. The closure of the mall came as a major conference grouping Southern Cameroons women throughout Western Europe ended in the city. Many of the Anglophone Cameroonian women were expected to visit the mall.
The official would not elaborate but police in Essen later said a man was being questioned in relation to the threat and that his apartment in the nearby city of Oberhausen was searched. Media reports said another man was also arrested at an internet cafe in Oberhausen in the afternoon. Heavy police presence was also visible at a shopping mall in the city.
The mall in Essen is reportedly one of the biggest in Germany. It said on its website that some 60,000 people normally visited 200 stores of the mall every Saturday. Reports said police officers, many armed with machine pistols and bullet-proof vests, had even forced out early morning staff.
Over the past years, Germany has been spared of terrorist attacks such as those that happened in France and Belgium. However, elements of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group have claimed several low-profile assaults on people in crowded places.
Germany has accepted more than a million from a historic flow of refugees that began to hit Europe in early 2015. Many fear the liberal asylum policies of German Chancellor Angela Merkel could cost Germany dearly, as reports have said some terror attacks have been carried out through refugee recruits. Last year, 10 people were injured after an ax-wielding man attacked shoppers at a mall in Dusseldorf. It later turned out that the man had no links to terror groups and acted on his own.