Police confirm evacuation of German mall, no 'anti-terror' operation

BERLIN Authorities evacuated a shopping centre in Bremen, Germany, on Wednesday evening as police hunted for a 19-year-old Algerian suspect who had fled a psychiatric facility, police said, but they denied that it was an “anti-terror operation.”

“There is no evidence of any danger and this is not an anti-terrorism operation,” a police spokeswoman told Reuters.

She said the mall had been cleared of people and that the suspect was at large.

Germany’s Bild newspaper initially cited police sources as saying the man had ties to extremist groups, but later attributed that information to security sources.

The police spokeswoman said she had no information about any such ties. She said the man could be a danger to himself or others, but gave no further details.

She said people at the Bremen mall had called police to report what they described as suspicious behaviour by a man. He was later identified as the missing patient, who had fled a facility in the nearby state of Lower Saxony.

Earlier, a suitcase exploded near a reception centre for migrants in southern Germany, but authorities said the blast may have been caused by an aerosol can, and there was no sign of any explosives involved.

Germany remains on edge following a spate of violent attacks since July 18 two of which involved attackers with links to Islamic State.

(Reporting by Ralf Bode; Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Richard Balmforth)