Authorities are investigating an Islamist background to the attack on the Borussia Dortmund team bus on Tuesday. A letter claiming responsibility reportedly begins with the words “In the name of Allah the merciful.”
Three explosions went off near Borussia Dortmund’s team bus as it set off for the Champions League quarterfinal match against AS Monaco on Tuesday, authorities said. According to local media reports, the case has been handed over to federal prosecutors, which usually means an incident is considered terrorism or a similarly serious crime.
Further reports indicated that a note found near the explosives began “in the name of Allah, the merciful,” and that investigators were looking into possible Islamist connections.
Police spokesman Gunnar Wortmann confirmed there were “three explosions near the [Borussia Dortmund] team bus as they left the hotel to go to the stadium.” Dortmund police said on their Twitter account said they “assume that this was an attack with serious explosives.”
At a press conference, police said they did not want to jump to conclusions by saying the three explosions were a terror attack. “We are assuming that they were a targeted attack against the Dortmund team,” said Dortmund city’s police chief Gregor Lange. An explosive-like item was found at the team’s hotel after the blasts but it did not ignite.
The letter found near the scene of the blast was allegedly written by an individual claiming responsibility for the attack. “Its authenticity is being verified,” prosecutor Sandra Lücke told journalists, without giving details.
DW’s Kate Brady reported of a sombre mood in the city the morning after.
Marc Bartra injuries
The club said defender Marc Bartra injured his arm and his hand and was taken straight to hospital. BVB chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke said Bartra’s injuries were not “life-threatening.” Borussia Dortmund’s representative at a press conference on Tuesday night confirmed that Bartra was undergoing surgery on his injured wrist and lower arm.
The match, which was to take place on Tuesday evening, was called off and rescheduled to Wednesday.
“The team is totally shocked, that’s clear. It’s our task now to digest this somehow because it’s only 24 hours before we have to play. That’s our job,” Watzke was quoted as saying.
“A proper explosion”
Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Bürki, who was sitting near Bartra on the team bus, chronicled the incident in an interview with Swiss newspaper “Blick,” calling it “a proper explosion.”
“We departed the hotel at 19:15 (1715 UTC). The bus turned onto the main street when there was a huge bang – a proper explosion,” Bürki said in the interview. “I sat in the last row next to Marc Bartra, who was hit by splinters of broken glass from the back window.”
“After the explosion, we all crouched down in the bus. Anyone who could lay down on the floor,” he continued. “We didn’t know if more would come.”
No threat inside the stadium
Dortmund police confirmed there was no danger for the fans inside the Signal Iduna Park. Stadium spokesman Norbert Dickel informed fans of the match cancellation, saying that “there is no reason for panic here at the stadium.”
The club urged the fans to remain calm and “keep the peace” so they could facilitate an “orderly departure” from the stadium.
While still in the stadium, Monaco fans chanted “Dortmund! Dortmund!” in support of their Champions League rival. The German club commended the support on their social media account and helped to direct the Monaco fans toward overnight accommodation.
dv/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)