Bavarian officials to hire more police, use tougher background checks after terror attacks

BERLIN – Bavarian officials on Thursday pledged to hire hundreds of extra police officers and urged tougher background checks on asylum-seekers as they presented an anti-terror plan following four deadly attacks in the country in a week.

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said his state – where three of the four attacks took place – would hire some 2,000 additional police officers by 2020, improve police officers’ equipment and create new offices to fight Muslim extremism and cybercrime.

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He also called for tougher background checks on asylum-seekers and new strategies to deport criminal asylum-seekers more easily. Three of the four attacks were committed by asylum-seekers.

READ MORE: Authorities raid mosque in northern Germany

“The threat of Salafist terrorism has arrived in Europe, in Germany, but also in Bavaria,” Bavarian Justice Minister Winfried Bausback said at a news conference with Herrmann.

Two of the attacks – an axe attack near Wuerzburg that wounded five and a suicide bombing that injured 15 outside a bar in Ansbach – were the first in Germany to be claimed by the Islamic State group. Both of the attackers were killed.

In two other attacks – a mass shooting in Munich that claimed 10 lives, including the attacker’s, and the stabbing of a woman at a restaurant in Reutlingen – the motive is still unclear but Islamic extremism is not suspected.

READ MORE: Munich shooter, Ali Sonboly, had been planning attack for a year

Investigators say the 18-year-old German-Iranian responsible for the Munich rampage left a several-pages-long document about his psychiatric illnesses, his school situation and his neighbourhood. However, Munich prosecutors and the Bavarian state criminal police office said in a joint statement Thursday they were still evaluating which parts of the document were fiction and which were based on reality.

The attacks have brought Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy of welcoming refugees under renewed criticism. More than 1 million came to Germany last year, though the influx has since slowed dramatically.

Also Thursday, Germany’s commissioner for immigration, refugees and integration called on mosques across the country to be more pro-active when it comes to preventing extremism among Muslim youths.

READ MORE: Islamic State magazine claims Ansbach attacker fought for group before coming to Germany

“We need to hold mosques more responsible when it comes to prevention among teenagers,” Aydan Ozoguz told the daily Heilbronner Stimme.

On Wednesday night, police raided a mosque believed to be a “hot spot” for Islamic extremists in the northern German city of Hildesheim. The raid didn’t appear to be connected to the recent attacks.

Germany has been on the edge since the recent string of attacks and since recent deadly attacks in neighbouring France.