Germany expands elite anti-terror unit amid security threats

The GSG-9 squad will be opening a new centre in Berlin

FILE PHOTO: German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere speaks with members of the GSG 9 unit of Bundespolizei, Germany's federal police, during the opening of a new headquarters for special forces and anti-terror units in Berlin, Germany August 8, 2017. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo
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Germany’s elite police squad are expanding by hiring more staff and opening a new base in Berlin to deal with the number of terror threats directed at the German capital.

The squad, known as the GSG-9, have been on high alert since December 2016 when a failed Tunisian asylum seeker Anis Amri ploughed a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people.

GSG-9 is based in St Augustin near Bonn, in western Germany, having been founded in 1972 in the wake of the Munich massacre.

GSG-9 commander Jerome Fuchs said the decision, which will see the unit expand by around a third of its current strength, was made because European capitals are so often the target of terror attacks.

“If one looks at similar terrorist situations throughout Europe, the capitals were often affected,” Commander Fuchs told Berlin public radio. "It is essential that we are better prepared in the capital. Our aim is clear: GSG 9 needs to be capable of quicker reactions in the capital."


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He added that finding the right staff would be a challenge and that the top assets for new recruits were “fitness, strength of character and team work”.

Major European cities including Paris, London, Barcelona and Nice have been affected by terror attacks in the past three years, leading to governments significantly increasing their security presence.

GSG-9 rose to international prominence in 1977 when it liberated over 80 hostages from a Lufthansa flight, which had been hijacked by Palestinian militants and flown to Mogadishu.