Germany introduces new counter-terrorism police unit

AP News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2015 9:46 AM

BERLIN (AP) — Germany on Wednesday introduced a new police unit that officials said will be better armed, outfitted and trained to deal with terrorism, based on an analysis of the country's security in the wake of deadly attacks in Paris earlier this year.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that, after the series of attacks in January centered on the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper in which 17 people were killed, security officials reassessed the situation in Germany.

Their conclusion that assailants would likely be highly aggressive, well-prepared, well-armed and capable of carrying out concurrent attacks was reinforced by the Nov. 13 attacks that left 130 dead in Paris.

"The danger in Germany from international terrorism is high, as it is across Europe," de Maiziere told reporters at a police base in Blumberg, outside Berlin. "It was high, it is high, and it will remain high for the foreseeable future."

Some 250 more officers will be added to the national police force's special arrest units, known as the BFE, and based at five locations around the country.

Unlike the country's elite GSG9 SWAT teams that are only deployed as emergency response units, the so-called BFE+ police will also be involved in day-to-day operations, filling a gap between the special unit and regular police, de Maiziere said.

The BFE+ police will be based in areas where the national police have helicopters, meaning they can be brought into situations quickly, de Maiziere said as he presented the first group of 50 new officers.

Police union spokesman Rainer Wendt says additional specially trained officers are "money well-spent" but told the dpa news agency ordinary patrol officers also must be properly equipped, saying all should have helmets and high-quality body armor.

"It would be irresponsible to do nothing for the ordinary patrolman," he said.