Germany on terrorism alert

Germany's interior minister issued a warning today about a threat of an imminent attack by Islamic extremists. He said hundreds of additional police have been stationed at airports, railway stations and other public places as a precaution.

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Interior Minister Thomas de Maizi�re cited a tip from foreign intelligence that came in after two mail bombs addressed to the U-S were sent from Yemen.

�According to information from a foreign partner,� he said in a statement,� there is an attack being planned for the end of November.�

Just last month, de Maiziere played down concerns over security warnings regarding possible attacks in Germany, France and Britain, saying he wasn't aware of any concrete plans. But today, he said the situation had changed. De Maiziere called for vigilance paired with calm. He said people in Germany will be able to see extra security measures, but there will be others that aren't apparent.

�Ladies and gentlemen, these are grounds for concern but not hysteria,� he said. �We will not allow international terrorism to constrict our way of life or liberal culture.�

Even when the threats include one of the country's most defining traditions. German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported today that Germany's popular Christmas Markets were among possible targets. The paper reported that security sources also indicated a specific date � November 22 � the opening day for these holiday markets across the country.

Philip Holtmann, a terrorism expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, said such specific forecasts should be considered with care and skepticism. Still, he added that the government's warnings are prudent.

�It's a frightening scenario,� he said, �if people think about a suicide attacker or a big bomb blast in a Christmas market. On the other hand, for me personally, I'll keep going to Christmas markets, and I won't suspect a terrorist behind every Christmas tree. �

But Germany has been on the lookout for potential threats. The country has nearly 5,000 troops in northern Afghanistan, and officials here have expressed concerns that Germany might be targeted at home.