German police are on alert for extremists to disrupt the G7 summit beginning on Sunday after a suspected arson attack on security forces in Munich.
Eight police cars were set on fire in the city where world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, will arrive for the three-day meeting.
Authorities said the proximity to the summit venue in the Bavarian Alps, and the fact that the sprawling police operation was targeted, suggests the attack was linked to the G7 and they suspect that left-wing extremists were to blame.
The likely political motivation “is being closely examined in view of the G7 summit,” said German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.
Police have said the rise of climate-related demonstrations and the extremist-tinged protest scene that grew out of coronavirus lockdowns make the security risks greater than when Germany last hosted the G7 in 2015.
In a separate security lapse, confidential documents revealing police tactics at the 2015 summit — held at the same Alpine castle, Schloss Elmau — were leaked online this week.
Numerous groups have called for protests to be held during this year’s summit, with the war in Ukraine adding greater sensitivity to the talks between the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Italy, the US, Canada and Japan.
The suspected arson shows that “despite our comprehensive preparations, we have to be on alert for acts of violence by politically-motivated activists,” said Manfred Hauser, the police chief for the area around the summit venue.
Bavarian police said they were ready for violent extremists to infiltrate largely peaceful protests against the G7.
A G20 summit five years ago in Hamburg, where Chancellor Olaf Scholz was mayor at the time, ended in chaotic scenes of street violence which police say they want to avoid this year.
Police have inspected more than 180 hotels where delegates may be staying and checked them for potential food poisoning, said Anton Speer, the head of the local government near Schloss Elmau.
Experts from the armed forces, Germany’s public health authority and a specialist radiation agency have been drafted in for the preparations.
Germany has also suspended Schengen free movement rules for three weeks, allowing police to check people arriving via the country's nine land borders.
This was done to “prevent the arrival of potential violent criminals” as world leaders gather for talks, the interior ministry said.
Local police have been stopped from taking holidays during the summit, with about 18,000 officers enlisted to protect world leaders.
Temporary holding cells have been set up in a ski stadium which once hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.