German forces beefs up security on New Year’s Eve
Berlin, December 31: German security forces are on high alert as the country prepares to ring in the New Year, days after 12 people were killed in a truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market, media reports said.
At Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, a traditional gathering point to welcome the New Year, concrete blocks would protect revellers from potential vehicle attacks, France 24 news said.
Similar barriers, and a heightened police presence, would be in place in Cologne, where hundreds of cases of sexual assault were reported during New Year’s Eve celebrations in 2015.
For the first time in Germany, there would be cameras monitoring citizens as they set off firecrackers and light up the night sky with sparkling rockets at midnight on Saturday.
Parties from Munich to Berlin would be secured by additional police officers, as Germans bid farewell to a year when terrorism reached their homeland, the New York Times reported.
On New Year’s Eve a year ago, roving groups of men, most of them from migrant backgrounds, took advantage of a chaotic scene in Cologne, in northwestern Germany, and in other cities to harass, grope and sexually assault women.
On December 19, a man professing allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) drove a truck into a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people in the country’s worst terrorist attack in decades.
In light of those crimes, and in response to the continuing concern about security and terrorism, Germany has taken the new precautions in advance of this weekend’s celebrations. IANS