German rock fest resuming after terror threat

Visitors leave the Rock am Ring festival venue outside Nuerburg, Germany on Friday evening after authorities issued a terror warning. Organisers were given the all-clear to resume a few hours later. (Thomas Frey/Dpa via AP)

BERLIN: Organisers of a popular German rock festival were preparing to restart the music on Saturday after police searches failed to confirm fears of a terrorist threat.

Authorities shut down and cleared thousands of fans from the three-day Rock am Ring festival on Friday evening, its opening night. They cited what they called “concrete indications on the basis of which a possible terrorist threat can’t be ruled out”, but did not give details.

Security officials in western Rhineland-Palatinate were planning a news conference Saturday morning local time to confirm the decision to restart. Rock am Ring organisers said in a Facebook post that police had cleared them to prepare to reopen the site.

The German band Rammstein was to be the Friday night headliner but hadn’t yet started playing when police gave the order to suspend activities.

The festival grounds were cleared by 9.30pm, about a half hour after people were told that they were going to have to leave.

“The public reacted fantastically,” organiser Marek Lieberberg said.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many fans were in attendance, but some 90,000 were expected by the end of the weekend at the event outside the western town of Nuerburg. Overall, some 85 bands were scheduled to play on four stages with Germany’s Toten Hosen highlighting Saturday’s list and California’s System of a Down playing Sunday.

Following the recent attack in Manchester outside a concert, organisers had instituted strict security controls including body searches, while backpacks and bags were banned. Some 1,200 police were to be on hand for the event, in uniform and in plainclothes.

Germany has been on alert since a number of violent attacks last year, including the truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that left 12 victims dead and dozens of others injured. The attack, carried out by a young Tunisian man who had been denied asylum in Germany, was claimed by the Islamic State group.

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