Terror attack on Borussia Dortmund football team?

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German football club side Borussia Dortmund’s bus was hit by three explosions as it travelled to a football match in the west German city on Tuesday evening, in what police said was a targeted attack.

Police said that the series of blasts, which injured one player and one policeman and shattered the bus’s windows, took place around 7.15pm local time as Borussia Dortmund’s squad set off for their stadium to play a Champions League quarter-final against French side AS Monaco. Gregor Lange, Dortmund’s police chief, said at a press conference late on Tuesday that the motive for the attack was “not yet clear” and that investigators were considering all possibilities. Sandra Lücke, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, said a letter claiming responsibility for the attacks had been found near the site of the explosions and was being “intensively” checked to see if it was genuine. Borussia Dortmund said that centre back Marc Bartra, a Spaniard who also plays for his national football team, had an operation on Tuesday after “breaking the radial bone in his arm and getting bits of debris lodged in his hand”. The 26-year-old, who has played 12 times for Spain, joined the Bundesliga club from Barcelona in June last year. A police motorcyclist who had been escorting the bus was treated for “acoustic trauma and shock”. The regional North Rhine-Westphalia police earlier said they were assuming the devices were made from an explosive material that should be taken seriously and that they might have been hidden in a hedge. Dortmund’s chief executive, Hans-Joachim Watzke, said that the explosions had happened close to the driveway of the team hotel as the team bus pulled on to the Wittbräuckerstraße. “I have to pay a big compliment to our fans, who have dealt with [the event] very well, calmly, reasonably, and with solidarity. The team and the trainers are naturally shocked. Somehow, we have to channel this.” The club’s president, Reinhard Rauball, said it was a “very difficult situation” for the players and staff but that he was sure that they would cope. “It would be a shame if the people responsible for this [attack] then also had the success of influencing the team in any way through it,” he said. The match was postponed until Wednesday. Police said there would be heavy security at the event, and there was a large police presence around Dortmund’s main rail station on Tuesday night. Uefa, European football’s governing body, said the decision to postpone the game had been made “after a meeting held at the Westfalenstadion [where Borussia Dortmund play] between Uefa, representatives of the two clubs and local authorities”.
In the immediate aftermath of the explosions Borussia Dortmund had announced there was no reason to expect any risk at the 80,000-capacity stadium but urged fans to remain inside for the present and to stay calm. The club also thanked Monaco supporters, who had been chanting “Dortmund! Dortmund!” in solidarity. Uefa’s president, Aleksander Čeferin, said he was deeply disturbed by the explosions in Dortmund. “The decision taken to postpone the Uefa Champions League match between Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco was the correct one since we must always prioritise the safety and security of all fans, team officials and players.” Dortmunders were quick to offer help to fans from Monaco left stranded after the game was put back. Within a couple of hours of the news of the postponement, the hashtag #bedforawayfans was spreading rapidly on Twitter, with numerous local people offering accommodation to visiting Frenchmen. Borussia Dortmund are one of Germany’s biggest and most passionately supported football clubs. Founded in north-east Dortmund in 1909, they have won eight German football championships, as well as the Champions League in 1997. They currently sit in fourth place in the Bundesliga, Germany’s top division. The explosion comes nearly a year-and-a-half after a football game between Germany and the Netherlands in Hanover had to be called off just two hours before its scheduled start over fears that the stadium would be attacked by terrorists. The match was due to be played four days after deadly attacks in Paris when suicide bombers hit a football stadium where Germany were playing France. The Hanover stadium had to be evacuated but in the end no arrests were made and no explosives found. Four months ago a Tunisian refugee drove a truck into a crowd at a Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring many more. The militant group Isis later claimed responsibility for the attack.

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