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Germany says Tajik held on terrorism charge to be deported to Austria

Police lights. (Dreamstime/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Police in the German city of Cologne say a Tajik national detained in late December on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack on Cologne Cathedral is wanted in Austria and will be sent there to face charges.

According to the police, the 30-year-old Tajik man will be deported to Austria, where he is suspected of plotting a terrorist attack targeting St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Prater park, a popular area for families, in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

Police arrested the man, whom some reports identified as Muhammadrajab B., in the town of Wesel, about 100 kilometers north of Cologne, after detaining five people and searching a residence there.

One of the five arrested men was identified as a 25-year-old Tajik man, a resident of the German city of Norvenich.

Muhammadrajab B. is suspected of having links to the Islamic State-Khorasan extremist group.

On December 31, police in the western city of Bochum arrested a 41-year old man with German and Turkish citizenship on suspicion of involvement in the plot to attack the Cologne Cathedral. The next day, police in Bochum detained three men of Tajik and Uzbek origin, who were later released on court orders.

German media, citing law enforcement, said a car was planned to be used in an attack near the cathedral.

German media also identified a Central Asian man, Murat Tashbekovich I., who was arrested in Austria on suspicion of involvement in a plot to attack the Cologne Cathedral. Police say he met with Muhammadrajab B. in the German city of Sankt Wendel in late November.

Authorities in Cologne and Vienna have beefed up security around Cologne Cathedral and St. Stephen’s Cathedral since late December.

Tajik authorities have yet to comment on the reports.