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Germany is prepared for an eventual attack: defence minister

'For us, the debate about using the military domestically is important simply because we are now pragmatically preparing for situations that we could not imagine before the attacks in Paris and Brussels,' she said. Photograph: (AFP)

Reuters Uedem, Germany Aug 11, 2016, 08.14 PM (IST)
Germany's defence minister said on Thursday (August 11) that the country was in the "crosshairs of terrorism" and pressed for plans for closer collaboration between the military and police in preparation for potential large-scale militant attacks.

Ursula von der Leyen, speaking at an operations centre in the town of Uedem near the Dutch border, said military and police already worked together on disaster response and to defend against 9/11-style attacks and chemical and biological threats; but it was critical to meet changing circumstances.

"We all know that Germany has long been in the crosshairs of terrorism and we all know as well the fantastic job the national forces are doing, like police and all the forces they work with. The level of protection is so high and so good that we can live in peace. However, we have to be prepared," von der Leyen told reporters.

"For us, the debate about using the military domestically is important simply because we are now pragmatically preparing for situations that we could not imagine before the attacks in Paris and Brussels," she said.

Islamist militants killed 130 people in simultaneous attacks in Paris last November.

In March, 32 people died in attacks on Brussels airport and a metro station.

Earlier on Thursday, interior minister Thomas de Maiziere, speaking in Berlin, said Germany must spend considerably more on its police and security forces, create a special unit to counter cyber crime and terrorism, and clamp down on foreigners convicted of crimes.

Germany is debating security measures including domestic use of military forces after a spate of attacks on civilians, two claimed by the Islamic State group, and a mass shooting in Munich initially seen as a possible terrorist attack. It was later found to be the work of an 18-year-old deranged gunman.

The use of the military at home is a sensitive matter. Von der Leyen triggered questions when she put a unit of 100 military police on alert for possible deployment during the Munich shooting. Germany's postwar constitution, intended to protect democracy after the Nazi era, forbids the army from deploying at home, except for defence against invasion or in case of natural disasters or extreme emergencies.

(Reuters)
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