Updated: German police are on high alert after a man of “Middle East” appearance purchased bomb making chemicals from a builders merchant near Cologne.
The news of the potential threat posed by the man which the police are taking seriously is likely to cause concern in Cologne, as the city is just days away from the annual carnival kicking into gear. Cologne’s carnival season is the largest in central Europe and one of the largest in the world, with over a million participants at its height in a city of just one million citizens.
Police were alerted by the management of the Knauber DIY store in Pulheim, near Cologne after the man went shopping on Friday and was spotted by an employee, who thought him suspicious, reports Bild.
After the initial police manhunt failed to identify the man, who was caught on CCTV wearing dark clothes and pushing his trolley the force went public, circulating his picture on Monday night.
Police have not revealed what the man bought at the store, but a spokesman said “with appropriate knowledge” his purchases could be transformed into an “explosive mixture”.
The state attorney general revealed today he had purchased “basic chemicals that anyone can buy for cleaning purposes”, suggesting he may have purchased hydrogen peroxide and ammonia, common amateur bomb making ingredients found by counter-terror forces in raids on so-called Islamist “bomb factories” in Europe.
If the man is not found and the materiel is not recovered the highlight of the carnival season Rose Monday could be cancelled, adding Cologne to the list of carnivals called off because of migrant violence fears, according to sources within the police.
The subject of the police man hunt is not the only bomb threat Cologne is facing this week. Some 4,000 people were evacuated from the city centre after construction work unearthed a Second World War 500-pound bomb. Work to defuse the bomb took place at 1900 Tuesday local time, reports the Rheinische Post.
The 44 year old man sought by police handed himself over to officers after his image was circulated to media, investigators announced this morning. The unnamed individual drove to a police station late last night with a friend and handed himself over, telling officers the cleaning chemicals were in the boot of the car. He said the chemicals had been purchased to clean his motorcycle, reports Der Express. Cologne criminal investigation police are now assessing the veracity of his claim.