Bonn The Christmas markets are starting and security issues are now part of them, including in NRW. There are large-scale security measures in place at the Berlin Christmas market where an attack occurred two years ago.
The Christmas market season means new security concepts in cities in North Rhine Westphalia: Bochum, for example, is blocking access to the city centre with 86 sacks of water that are even supposed to stop lorries. The certified system is replacing the sandbags used previously, said a spokesperson from Bochum Marketing. The sand bags placed at entrances to the markets became famous last year for looking as though they were wrapped in gift paper.
Bochum is also setting up barriers at three locations that cannot be penetrated by vehicles. The barriers came from Israel and resemble gates that deform on impact and stop an attack, reported the spokesperson. The gates can also be opened for buses, for example. If they are allowed on the “Christmas Mile”, drivers will be checked, said the transport company Bogestra. This will minimise the danger of terrorist attacks like the one on the Berlin Christmas market around two years ago.
No barriers in Bielefeld
Duisburg, where the Christmas market has already started, has also replaced old systems with new ones. 25 red and white striped concrete pillars are blocking the streets at key access points to the city centre. Fixed bollards are also being put up in several locations. Water sacks are not in use.
Bielefeld is managing without barriers. A spokesman for the city marketing department said that in the security authorities’ view it was not possible to install meaningful barriers without crippling Christmas operations. The city centre area is still safe for visitors to the market. Organisers, stand operators and performers had increased their awareness. Anything unusual would be reported to organising staff. In some cases there would also be additional security guards.
In general, the danger of attack is no higher than in previous years, according to Düsseldorf police. Accordingly, the security measures at the Christmas markets in the Old Town and the city centre provide for increased numbers of civilian and uniformed emergency forces and attack prevention by means of concrete blocks.
“Unique protection against access”
Two years after the terrorist attack on the Berlin Christmas market, extensive barriers against possible attacks on the Memorial Church will be erected from this Monday. These include heavy metal bollards, steel mesh baskets with sand bags and steel and concrete plinths, which are to be placed at the access roads to Breitscheidplatz in the west of Berlin’s city centre.
The barriers were selected for a pilot project. According to the Berlin Senate, they will provide “unique protection against access” by lorries in Germany. The construction of the Christmas market at the Memorial Church began last week. It opens on 26 November.
A total of twelve people were killed and more than 70 injured in the lorry attack by the Tunisian Islamist Anis Amri on 19 December 2016.
(Original text: dpa / Translation: kc)