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Terrorism fears prompt new security measures at Oktoberfest

Visitors wander through the festival grounds at an earlier Oktoberfest. After recent terrorist incidents in Bavaria, the city of Munich has decided to step up security, including the banning of backpacks of more than 3 liters (0.8 gallons) at this year's Oktoberfest, which starts on Sept. 17.

MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES

By MARCUS KLOECKNER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 17, 2016

Security measures at this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich will be tightened considerably because of fears of possible terrorist attacks, authorities said Wednesday.

The festival grounds will be cordoned off by a fence during the event, which runs from Sept. 17 to Oct. 3. Backpacks and all large bags will be banned, and small bags will be individually checked by security staff, the city of Munich said in a news release.

Oktoberfest this year comes at particularly sensitive time in Europe. Germany has been on edge since a string of recent attacks, including a shooting by a German-Iranian youth in Munich that claimed 10 lives, an ax rampage near Wuerzburg that wounded five, and a suicide bombing that injured 15 outside a bar in Ansbach.

The federal government last week proposed a set of tough new security measures designed to deal with Islamic extremists. These would allow for fast-track deportations of foreigners considered dangerous and the stripping of citizenship from anyone who joins radical groups in the Middle East.

Oktoberfest organizers will provide facilities where people will be able check their belongings, city officials said. Strollers, spray cans and glass bottles also will not be allowed onto the festival grounds, but exceptions will be made for handicapped people.

“With the revised scheme, we are drawing the lessons from the latest events without changing the character of the Oktoberfest,” Munich Mayor Josef Schmidt said.

“The ban on the backpacks and bags can only be enforced if there is no unchecked access to the festival,” Schmidt said. He said that even though a fence will enclose the festival grounds, “quick escape routes are ensured.”

Thomas Boehle, a county official responsible for the new arrangements, said that past security plans had to be revised in light of the recent terrorist attacks. “There is no such as thing as absolute security in this world,” he said.

kloeckner.marcus@stripes.com

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