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Police warn of "imminent" terror attack in Munich

Last Updated Dec 31, 2015 11:49 PM EST

MUNICH, Germany -- With less than an hour to go before midnight on New Year's Eve, police in one of Germany's largest cities warned residents of the "imminent threat" of a possible terror attack.

Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told reporters early Friday morning at Munich's police headquarters authorities had received information that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group was behind the threat.

Munich police president Hubertus Andrae said German authorities had been tipped off by a foreign intelligence service that ISIS was planning attacks with five to seven suicide bombers, the German news agency dpa reported.

Andrae said so far there hadn't been any arrests.

Shortly after 11 p.m. local time, Munich Police sent a tweet telling residents to avoid crowds, including at the city's main train stations.

"Current indications that in # Munich a terrorist attack is planned," the police department tweeted. "Please avoid crowds and the train stations Hauptbahnhof + Pasing."

Police spokesman Werner Kraus told The Associated Press that "after evaluating the situation, we started evacuating the train stations and also asked partygoers to stay away from big crowds outside."

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German police secure the main train station in Munich early on January 1, 2016, after saying on Twitter they had received a tip regarding a planned terrorist attack.

REUTERS

Despite the police statement, thousands of people were on the streets of Munich at midnight to welcome the new year with fireworks.

Dpa reported massive delays in the city's public transportation system as the train stations were quickly evacuated with trains no longer stopping there. Both stations reopened several hours later.

Munich, the capital of Bavaria, is a city of more than 1.4 million people in southeastern Germany.

As CBS News foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reported, Europe has been on edge in the six weeks following the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

However, not even terrorist threats could keep Europeans from ringing in the New Year -- though every capital city was saturated with security, especially Paris -- where terrorists struck twice this past year.

The French president himself appeared with some of the 11,000 soldiers on duty, a photo op designed to reassure both residents and visitors.

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French President Francois Hollande, right, and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve talk to a armed police officer as they visit security forces near the Champs Elysees Avenue in Paris, France, December 31, 2015.
REUTERS

"We are not really scared about it," tourist Manuel Torres from Mexico told CBS News. "We want to enjoy it. We've never been here on New Year's Eve and it's magical."

But the magic was scaled back. There were no fireworks this year and the traditional party on the Champs Elysee will wrap up earlier than usual.

In Brussels, the official party was canceled as soldiers fanned out across the city. Workers dismantled the stage where the New Year's show was to go on after the arrest of two men suspected of planning holiday attacks.

Some think it was an overreaction, including local resident Ken Kinsella.

"I think it is backing down to the threat of terrorism," Kinsella said. "I think we should stand up and just make everything happen."

But Belgians are edgy.

This week, police arrested yet another suspect with links to the Paris attacks in Molenbeek, a Brussels suburb that was home to of the other attackers. One of them -- Salah Abdesalam -- is still on the loose.

Still, New Year's Eve is for celebration, according to Brussels club owner Pablo Saccomano

"I really believe that the people from Brussels need to go out party and need to gather, as well, and to bond together," Saccomano said.

It wasn't only Belgian police who uncovered evidence of a New Year's terrorist attack. The Turks arrested two men who they say planned to bomb a shopping mall and a crowded bar in the capital Ankara Thursday night.