The Essen shopping center closed Saturday due to what authorities said was a concrete threat of a terrorist attack will reopen for business on Monday.
The Limbecker Platz Center in Essen is one of Germany’s largest inner-city shopping centers, and on a typical Saturday attracts about 60,000 visitors. In response to information received by Germany’s domestic security agency BvV indicating a possible terrorist attack, the police closed the center Saturday and stationed armed police at the complex. The CentrO shopping center in nearby Oberhausen was also put under heightened security.
Two local men were arrested in Oberhausen Saturday, but one has since been released. Authorities say the plan’s mastermind appears to be a German fighter for ISIS now in Syria, who was a known member of the Salifist scene in Oberhausen. He purportedly was in contact with persons in Germany as well as outside the country to organize the assault. Further details have not been released at this time.
Germany has been under heightened security alert, especially since the terror attack in December when a truck drove into a Berlin Christmas street market, leaving 12 dead. Shopping centers have previously been targets of threats and actual attacks, most notably July’s shooting spree by a German-Iranian teenager in a Munich center which cost 10 lives.
While the nation’s shopping center operators and department store retailers decline to discuss specifics, it is generally assumed that security has been stepped up.
It will presumably be back to business “as usual” in Essen and Oberhausen on Monday, and there were no reports of unusual incidents or quieter consumer traffic during Berlin’s special open shopping day Sunday.