Arrest in bus attack probe as Borussia Dortmund lose rescheduled match

Borussia Dortmund; Football association shutdown due to coronavirus

German authorities arrested a suspected Islamic extremist in their investigation into a bomb attack on Borussia Dortmund, while the team lost 3-2 to Monaco in a hastily rescheduled Champions League match.

Amid heightened security, the defeat in Europe’s top club competition came less than 24 hours after three explosions shattered a window of the team’s bus and rattled nerves across the city in western Germany.

Armed police officers in body armour patrolled the streets around Dortmund’s stadium Wednesday night as locals and visiting fans mingled in a subdued atmosphere.

Supporters were banned from taking backpacks to the match and some were frisked. During the match, small knots of armed police guarded access to the stands.

Earlier in the day, Frauke Koehler, a spokeswoman for German federal prosecutors, said investigators are focusing on two suspected Islamic extremists in the bus attack and searched their homes, arresting one of them.
But authorities said other motives are possible.

Investigators are still trying to determine how the metal-packed devices were detonated and what explosive substance was used.

They also found three copies of a note at the scene of the blasts, which demanded the withdrawal of German Tornado reconnaissance jets that are assisting the fight against the Islamic State group and the closure of the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Koehler said.

But the region’s top security official raised the possibility the note could be “an attempt to lay a false trail”.

“We are investigating in every direction,” said Ralf Jaeger, the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state.

Tobias Plate, a spokesman for Germany’s Interior Ministry, said notes claiming responsibility have not been a feature of past Islamic extremist attacks.

Koehler also said there were “significant doubts” about a second claim of responsibility on the internet suggesting a left-wing extremist motive.

As the investigation continued, the football match delayed by the blasts got under way.

Dortmund were without Spanish central defender Marc Bartra, who underwent surgery for injuries to his wrist and arm after the three devices packed with metal pins detonated close to the team bus on Tuesday night.

Before kickoff, his teammates honoured Bartra by wearing yellow T-shirts bearing his image and the message in Spanish: “A lot of strength – we are with you.”

The stadium announcer called out the Spanish defender’s first name three times and the crowd roared “Bartra!” in response.

Clearly missing Bartra in defence and possibly still shocked by the attack on their bus, Dortmund conceded two goals in the first 35 minutes.

The team fought back after the break, to make it 2-1 in the 57th minute before Kylian Mbappe scored his second of the evening in the 79th minute for Monaco.

Shinji Kagawa cut the deficit in the 84th minute, but it was not enough to save Dortmund from defeat.

“It was very difficult for the team to focus on the game. We let the players decide if they wanted to play today. But we noticed that training did us good,” said Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.

Chancellor Angela Merkel branded the attack “a repugnant act” and praised the “great solidarity” shown by both teams’ fans. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere attended Wednesday’s match.

Uefa increased security for all three Champions League games on Wednesday.

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