- Associated Press - Monday, November 22, 2010

BERLIN — Germany closed down the famous glass and steel dome and rooftop terrace of the Reichstag parliament building to visitors Monday over concerns of a possible terror attack.

The building, which attracts thousands of tourists daily for its stunning panoramic views of the city, will be shut until further notice, parliamentary spokeswoman Birgit Landskron said.

The move came after Der Spiegel magazine reported on the weekend, without citing sources, that an informer claimed to German authorities that al Qaeda planned a possible attack early next year on the parliament building in downtown Berlin.

The head of Germany‘s Federal Criminal Police Office, Joerg Ziercke, called the report Saturday “highly speculative.”

“There are no indications of specific places, people or moments,” Mr. Ziercke said in Hamburg.

A spokesman for the federal police, speaking on departmental policy of anonymity, said he could not comment on specifics, but that the situation had not changed since Mr. Ziercke’s comments.

“There is nothing new today,” he said.

Germans have been on edge since Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere raised the county’s terrorist threat level last week. He cited an increased threat from Islamic extremists, saying that Germany had received a tip from an unspecified country about a suspected attack planned for the end of November.

The city of Berlin’s top security official Ehrhart Koerting told a parliamentary security subcommittee Monday that in light of the terrorist warnings he had decided to strengthen security at the Reichstag building.

In addition to shutting down the cupola, the entire area around the building was fenced off, with a heavy presence of Berlin and federal police standing guard.

Mr. Koerting told lawmakers there were “many uncertainties” at the moment.

Mr. Koerting was quoted by the news agency DAPD as saying the current situation “gives us cause for concern, but no cause for hysteria.”

 

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