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Germany detains four men suspected of unification day plot

Oct 2, 2011, 9:05 a.m.

COLOGNE, Germany (Reuters) - German police said on Sunday they had detained four men they suspected may have been planning an attack Monday at celebrations marking the 21st anniversary of German reunification.

A police spokesman in Cologne, Christoph Gilles, told Reuters that three of the men, aged 22 to 27, were detained in Bonn while police in Hesse state said a fourth man was detained in Offenbach.

"We detained three suspects from the Islamist spectrum in Bonn Saturday afternoon," Gilles said. "They are suspected of illegally obtaining weapons."

Gilles said police in Cologne received information that they had illegally acquired weapons ahead of Monday's celebrations in Bonn, which is about 30 km (18 miles) south of Cologne.

"We had information (about the illegal weapons) and we took action based on that, also in light of the fact of the upcoming German Unity Day festivities," Gilles said.

Gilles said they did not find any weapons in searches of the suspects' apartments. The suspect in Offenbach was released while police were still investigating the three men from Bonn, the former West German capital.

The suspects had been under observation for quite some time by German police authorities, one official said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Christian Wulff will be attending the Unity Day celebrations in Bonn Monday.

"We are now investigating whether and what sort of corresponding plans there might have been in regards to that," Gilles said, referring to the Unity Day celebration.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Berlin said they had also been involved in the investigation.

(Reporting By Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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