Europe

Oktoberfest security tightened over terrorism fears

Visitors reach for one-litre glasses of free beer to kick off the 2016 Oktoberfest beer festival Image copyright Getty Images

Police in Germany have tightened security for this year's Oktoberfest over terrorism fears.

The world's biggest beer festival will be fenced off for the first time to ensure visitors go through security checks, authorities say.

About six million visitors are expected to visit Munich for the 17-day event, which runs until 3 October.

Southern Germany was rocked by a series of attacks this summer, though not all were linked to political motives.

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"We don't see any special risk for Oktoberfest, but it's clear such an internationally known festival would naturally be a possible attack target,'' Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told the Associated Press.

He said there remains a "fundamentally high risk of terror attacks in Germany overall.''

Image copyright AP
Image caption New fences aim to ensure no attendees can get around security checks

Backpacks and large bags will be banned from the festival site and more police than usual are being deployed.

Some 450 security guards will be on-site and 29 security cameras will keep watch on festivities.

"The adapted safety concept adequately reacts to recent events without changing the basic character of the Oktoberfest," Munich Mayor Josef Schmid said.

Ten people were killed and dozens more injured in separate gun, bomb, axe and machete attacks in Germany's south during one week in July, several of them in Bavaria.

An axe attack on a train in Wuerzburg by a teenage Afghan refugee was claimed by so-called Islamic State, while a rejected Syrian asylum seeker who blew himself up in Ansbach had pledged allegiance to the group.

But police ruled out a political motive for an 18-year-old gunman who killed nine people and then himself in a Munich shooting spree.

These events had led authorities to "re-evaluate the Oktoberfest safety concept," said Dr Thomas Bohle of Munich's Department of Public Order.


Oktoberfest - things to know

Image copyright AP
  • The festival mostly takes place in September, despite its name, having been moved forward to take advantage of balmy summer weather
  • No-one is allowed to drink until the mayor of Munich taps the first barrel of beer
  • Entrance is free and anyone can enter the beer tents, but it can be hard to get a seat
  • Most visitors don traditional Bavarian dress for the occasion - typical items include a dirndl (type of dress) for women and lederhosen (leather breeches) for men
  • The first Oktoberfest took place in 1810, to celebrate the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen
  • A litre-sized "stein" of beer will set punters back a minimum of €10.40 (£9) this year

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