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Islamists prepare terrorist attacks on Christmas services in Europe

Islamists prepare terrorist attacks on Christmas services in Europe Illustrative photo (Freepik)

An Islamist terrorist cell planned several attacks in Cologne, Vienna, and Madrid. Christmas church services could have been the target, reports Focus Online.

In this regard, several arrests were made in Germany and Austria. A sniffer dog is being used to search for explosives in Cologne Cathedral.

"Due to the current threat assessment of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the still elevated terrorist alert level, there is an overall increased risk during the Christmas holidays in Austria", the Vienna police said in a statement.

The police added that security measures have been tightened in Austria due to possible terrorist attacks.

"As terrorist organizations across Europe have called for attacks on Christian events, in this context - especially around December 24 - security authorities have stepped up security measures in public places in Vienna and the federal states. In particular, the security of vulnerable places and objects is being strengthened," the statement said.

Search dog used in Cologne Cathedral

Security standards have been raised in Cologne Cathedral, including the use of an explosives detection dog. The police will also take special protection measures in connection with the information received about the danger.

Germany's State Security Service, which is actively involved in politically motivated criminal offenses, has launched an investigation.

"Even if the lead is related to New Year's Eve, we will do everything possible to ensure the safety of visitors to the cathedral on Christmas Eve. In coordination with the security officer of the cathedral's head, the cathedral will be searched with sniffer dogs after the evening mass and then locked," said Michael Esser, head of the Cologne Criminal Investigation Department.

Starting on Christmas Eve, all visitors will be checked before entering the church.