Cologne – German federal prosecutors said Thursday that they had cleared the sole suspect in custody for Tuesday’s bomb attack against the Borussia Dortmund football team bus of involvement in the crime.
“The investigation has not found evidence that the suspect took part in the attack,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a brief statement. It said it was nevertheless seeking an arrest warrant for the 26-year-old Iraqi national, identified only as Abdul Beset A., for alleged ties to terror group ISIS.
German authorities had arrested a suspect in connection with what Chancellor Angela Merkel called a “despicable” attack on a bus carrying players of one of the country’s top football teams. The team was headed to its home stadium to play in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League.
Spanish defender Marc Bartra suffered injuries to his arm and wrist. The blasts smashed windows on the bus carrying the players. Bartra was operated on for a broken bone in his right wrist and shrapnel in his arm, a team spokesman said.
Germany’s Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office spoke of “terrorism” being the chief motive behind the three Dortmund blasts. “An ‘Islamist’ background appears to be possible,” federal prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Frauke Koehler said.
The blasts had a radius of more than 100 meters, federal prosecutors said, adding it was lucky the toll was not higher.
The investigation is focused on two suspects “from the ‘Islamist’ spectrum” Koehler said, adding that both their homes had been raided and one man was detained.
At least one of the two could have been close to the scene at the time of the explosion, media said, quoting unnamed security sources who nevertheless urged caution on linking the individuals to the assault.
Three identical letters left behind by the plotters were found at the scene. Koehler said the letters referred to the use of Tornado reconnaissance planes in Syria, which Germany has deployed as part of the military campaign against terror group ISIS, and also called for the closure of the US military base at Ramstein in western Germany.
The devices used in the attack contained metal pins, one of which buried its way into a headrest on the bus, Koehler said. Investigators are still working to determine how the devices were detonated and what explosive substance was used.