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Suspects detained in German Christmas market terror plot

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Credit: CNN Credit: CNN

(CNN) -- A possible terror plot on a Christmas market in Germany was uncovered Tuesday after six Syrian nationals were detained in raids by police, a German intelligence official told CNN.

The men were detained following large-scale raids in four cities involving approximately 500 officers on Tuesday morning led by the Hessian State Criminal Police and the Attorney General of Frankfurt, a joint statement by the two agencies said. The men were targets of an investigation "into suspicion of membership in a terrorist organization and for preparation of terror attack," the statement said.

According to police, the six Syrian nationals had applied for asylum and are suspected of being ISIS members. An attack "had not been fully planned yet" according to the statement, but the suspects are believed to have been planning to carry out attacks with "weapons or bombs on a public target in Germany."

A German intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told CNN the suspects had been doing target reconnaissance of the areas in which Christmas markets in Essen, Germany, would be held. They'd also surveilled buildings in Berlin, the official said.

Last year, a dozen people died and about 50 more were injured when a tractor-trailer barreled into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin. The suspect had pledged allegiance to ISIS in a video posted hours before the attack. He later died after a shootout with police in Italy.


By Paul Cruickshank and Rudolph Birgelen CNN

CNN's Josh Berlinger and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.

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