Germany game against Netherlands called off over bomb fears

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Soccer Match In Germany Canceled, Stadium Evacuated

A soccer game between Germany and Netherlands which German Chancellor Angel Merkel was due to attend in Hanover was called off two hours before its scheduled start on Tuesday over fears of a planned bombing.

The match was due to have been held four days after deadly attacks in Paris on Friday, when suicide bombers targeted the soccer stadium where Germany were playing France.

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"We had received specific indications that an attack with explosives was planned," Hanover Police President Volker Kluwe told NDR state broadcaster. "We took them seriously and that is why we took the measures."

Police vans with loudspeakers ordered fans to leave the Hanover stadium and heavily armed officers positioned themselves outside the arena.

Police also evacuated Hanover's TUI multi-purpose arena where a concert was about to start.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the threat was credible and cancelling the game was the right thing to do, but did not provide any details.

"I understand the question but I will not answer it," he told a hastily convened news conference when asked what had forced the decision. He said divulging details could undermine security at other events.

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Germany game against Netherlands called off over bomb fears
HANOVER, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: A police man protects the evacuated HDI Arena prior to the International Friendly match between Germany and Netherlands at HDI Arena on November 17, 2015 in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)
German police officers search between the seats of the stadium prior to an international friendly soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands in Hannover, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 following Friday's attacks in Paris. . (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Police secures the area around the stadium after the friendly football match Germany vs the Netherlands was called off for 'security reasons' in Barsinghausen on November 17, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: Special forces secure the HDI-Arena after a bomb alert prior the match Germany against the Netherlands at the HDI-Arena on November 17, 2015 in Hanover, Germany. The Match was cancelled, after unoffical sources said there is a bomb inside a car at the parking place at the front gate. Special Forces from other Cities are expected to arrive shortly at the scene. The German Federal Police raised the number of heavy equipped Police officers inside the main train station of Hanover, the airport of Hanover as well as at the HDI-Arena in order to increase the safety, after the attacks in Paris last week. German chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and members of the German Federal cabinet are expected to be among the guests at the match. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: Police forces secure the evacuated HDI-Arena prior the International Friendly match between Germany and Netherlands at HDI Arena on November 17, 2015 in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Police secures the area around the stadium after the friendly football match Germany vs the Netherlands was called off for 'security reasons' in Barsinghausen on November 17, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Police secures the area around the stadium after the friendly football match Germany vs the Netherlands was called off for 'security reasons' in Barsinghausen on November 17, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: Armed Police by the stadium after the cancellation of the International friendly match between Germany and The Netherlands at the AWD Arena on November 17, 2015 in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Police officers stand outside the HDI-Arena stadium as the soccer friendly match between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled in Hannover, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
German flags are carried out of the stadium as the soccer friendly between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled in Hannover, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Rescue workers stand outside the stadium as the soccer friendly match between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled in Hannover, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
German police officers search between the seats of the stadium prior to an international friendly soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands in Hannover, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. Following the attacks in Paris, security measures have been increased for the match. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A police officer walks near the HDI-Arena stadium where Germany will play a soccer friendly match against the Netherlands in Hannover, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
HANOVER, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: Emergancy service staff leave the stadium after the cancellation of the International friendly match between Germany and The Netherlands at the AWD Arena on November 17, 2015 in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Police stands in front of the Interior ministry of Lower Saxony after the friendly football match Germany vs the Netherlands was called off for 'security reasons' in Hannover on November 17, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Spectators leave the HDI-Arena stadiums as the soccer friendly match between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled in Hannover, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
HANOVER, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: Special forces secure the HDI-Arena after a bomb alert prior the International Friendly match between Germany and Netherlands at HDI Arena on November 17, 2015 in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: People comfort each other shortly after the match between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled following a bomb alert at the HDI-Arena on November 17, 2015 in Hanover, Germany. The Match was cancelled after unoffical sources said there was a bomb inside a car at the parking area at the front gate. Special Forces from other cities are expected to arrive shortly at the scene. The German Federal Police raised the number of heavily armed police officers inside the main train station and airport at Hanover and at the HDI-Arena, in order to increase security after the attacks in Paris last week. German chancellor Angela Merkel and members of the German Federal cabinet were expected to be among the guests at the match. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: People speak on their mobile phones shortly after the match between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled following a bomb alert at the HDI-Arena on November 17, 2015 in Hanover, Germany. The Match was cancelled after unoffical sources said there was a bomb inside a car at the parking area at the front gate. Special Forces from other cities are expected to arrive shortly at the scene. The German Federal Police raised the number of heavily armed police officers inside the main train station and airport at Hanover and at the HDI-Arena, in order to increase security after the attacks in Paris last week. German chancellor Angela Merkel and members of the German Federal cabinet were expected to be among the guests at the match. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
HANOVER, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 17: Emergancy service staff leave the stadium after the cancellation of the International friendly match between Germany and The Netherlands at the AWD Arena on November 17, 2015 in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images)
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"We will have such cases in the future, maybe not Hanover but somewhere else," he said.

Lower Saxony interior minister Boris Pistorius said no explosives had been found and no arrests had been made.

After the attacks in Paris on Friday security measures in Hanover had been tight. In a show of solidarity, Merkel was set to attend with Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and several government ministers.

"We were re-routed on our way to the stadium and are now in a safe area," German team spokesman Jens Grittner said on Twitter. "We cannot say more at this moment."

Interim German Football Association President Reinhard Rauballl said he called up the team in the bus some five kilometers (3 miles) from the stadium, telling them the game was canceled.

Both the German and the Dutch teams were then rushed to a secure undisclosed location before the hosts left individually for their homes and the visitors for the airport.

"That we would go through this twice in four days is not something I could imagine," Rauball, visibly shaken, told reporters. It is a sad day for Germany and a sad day for German football," Rauball said.

Two Dutch government ministers who were due to attend the match – Defense Minister Jeanine Hennes and Health and Sport Minister Edith Schippers — were also returning home.

World champions Germany had not initially wanted the game to go ahead after having played in Paris on Friday as a wave of attacks hit the city, killing 129 people.

The contingent of 80 Germans, including players, coaches and staff, then spent the night holed up in the changing rooms of the Stade de France stadium, before heading for the airport on Saturday morning.

But the players, coaches and the national football association then decided to go ahead with the Hanover game in a gesture of solidarity with France.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Nasr in Berlin and Andrew Deutsch in Amsterdam; Editing by Dominic Evans/Ruth Pitchford)

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