German authorities said six people have been detained Sunday allegedly in connection with a plan to carry out an extremist attack on Berlin’s half-marathon.
In a joint statement, prosecutors and police said, “There were isolated indications that those arrested, aged between 18 and 21 years, were participating in the preparation of a crime in connection with this event.”
Berlin police tweeted that six people were arrested after a joint operation with the Berlin’s prosecutor’s office.
The German daily Die Welt first reported that police was able to stop a plan to attack race spectators and participants with knives.
The paper also reported the main suspect apparently knew Anis Amri, a Tunisian asylum seeker who killed 12 people when he hijacked a truck and drove it into a crowded Berlin Christmas market in December 2016.
The arrests came after Germany special force police raided the homes of suspected members of a far-right group in Berlin, Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office said.
Authorities did not say if the two cases were connected.
At least eight people are allegedly involved. The chief federal prosecutor’s office said apartments in the states of Berlin, Brandenburg and Thuringia were searched on Sunday for weapons.
Though no one has been detained, officials believe the suspects are members of the Reichsbuerger (Citizens of the Reich) group — an organization that does not recognize modern-day Germany as a legitimate state and does not accept current rules.
The group believes the former “Deutsche Reich” is still alive, despite Nazi Germany’s defeat in World War II. They identify with a state system from 1871-1918, the German Kaiserreich area.
Authorities said the accused formed the group in 2017. Besides efforts to acquire weapons, German police is also investigating the killings of some people. Officials said the group is ready to kill targeted people, if necessary.
Investigators said in a statement that they were assisted in their searches by the anti-terrorism GSG 9 police unit.
According to the domestic intelligence service, it is estimated the Reichsbuerger has several thousand members.
In October 2016, a member was shot and killed by a police officer in Bavaria when a special force team was about to enter his home to apprehend hunting and sports guns.
Sunday’s raids, however, were not linked to the incident in Muenster on Saturday, where a man drove a van into a group of people sitting outside a restaurant, killing two people. The man then shot himself to death, the prosecutor’s office said.