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Blasts Hit Borussia Dortmund Team Bus, Injuring Bartra | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Police with the Borussia Dortmund team bus after an explosion near their hotel before the game (Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach Livepic)

London – Several explosions rocked Borussia Dortmund’s football team bus on Tuesday shortly before the start of their Champions League match with AS Monaco, injuring defender Marc Bartra and forcing the match to be rescheduled for Wednesday.

Bartra was slightly injured after three explosions went off near the bus carrying the German football team. The player underwent an operation after breaking a bone in his wrist. No other players were hurt.

The explosions, which damaged a window on the bus, happened shortly after 17:00 GMT on Wittbraeucker Strasse, in Hoechsten.

German police are investigating a possible extremist link to the explosions, national media reported Wednesday. But Dortumund police spokeswoman Nina Vogt told ZDF television that “of course our investigations have to go in all directions to begin with.”

She said the direction of the probe remains “open.”

Investigators were checking the authenticity of a letter claiming responsibility that they found near the scene, and were refusing to give any details of its contents, citing the ongoing probe. Another suspicious object found at the scene turned out to be trash.

Police said in a statement late Tuesday that they were working on the assumption that the blasts were caused by “serious explosive devices”, which may have been hidden in a hedge near a car park.

“At this time, it is still not clear what the real background to this act is,” Dortmund police chief Gregor Lange told a news conference. He stated that the police assumed the team bus was deliberately targeted in the attack.

Lange said that the police had been preparing for this for a long time.

“I do not want to suggest that this was a terrorist attack. All that is still being investigated. We want to be careful. It is being investigated very professionally,” he stated.

Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said: “The whole team is in a state of shock, you can’t get pictures like that out of your head.”

The CEO expressed his hope for the team to be in a position to be able to compete on the pitch on Wednesday. “In a crisis situation like this, Borussia pulls together,” he added.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said he was “deeply disturbed by the explosions”.

“The decision taken to postpone the UEFA Champions League match between Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco was the correct one since we must always prioritize the safety and security of all fans, team officials and players,” he said.

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the representatives of the two clubs, the local authorities, and the supporters for their cooperation on the ground,” added Ceferin.