BERLIN — Germany sent hundreds of police officers into railway stations, airports and other public places Wednesday, after the nation's top security official warned of an increased threat from Islamic extremists.
The move came after new, tangible intelligence came to light over the past weeks and months, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. Germans will notice a visible response to the threat, including an increased police presence at airports and railway stations to remain in place until further notice, he said.
"These measures are aimed at prevention and deterrence," de Maiziere said. "We are showing force, that we will not be bullied."
Despite the heightened security presence, de Maiziere urged calm. Officials did not provide specific details about the threat.
"There is reason for worry, but there is no reason for hysteria," he said. "We will not allow international terror to limit us in our way of life and our culture of freedom."
Germany has no color-coded or numbered-tier system for measuring security levels, comparable to those in the United States, Britain or France, and it tends to be far more cautious in publicly discussing the degrees of threat, on grounds it could endanger efforts to prevent an attack.
Germany has more than 4,900 soldiers serving in northern Afghanistan as part of the NATO security force there and has long expressed concern it could be targeted by extremists.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said there were no plans to cancel or change any trips or public appearances by the German leader. He echoed de Maiziere's statement that the country must not allow terror threats to impinge on its freedom — "then we would give the terrorists a cheap victory."
De Maiziere cited a tip from an unspecified country about a suspected attack planned for the end of November — though he didn't say where it was supposed to take place.
That tip arrived after the interception of two mail bombs mailed from Yemen to the U.S. — one of which went through a German airport before it was found in Britain. The Yemen plot points to "the adaptability and the persistence of terrorists in pursuing their aims," and underlines "the reliability of some leads," de Maiziere said in a statement to reporters, without elaborating.
He said German authorities had also gathered concrete intelligence of their own pointing to "sustained efforts" by Islamic extremist groups to plan attacks in Germany.