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German soccer game canceled over "concrete" bomb threat

HANNOVER, Germany -- The friendly soccer game between Germany and the Netherlands that was being used by many officials as an example of gesture of defiance against terrorism was canceled at short notice due to the serious threat of an attack at the stadium on Tuesday.

"We had concrete evidence that someone wanted to set off an explosive device in the stadium," Hannover police chief Volker Kluwe told German TV.

At a press conference following the cancellation, Thomas de Maizière, Federal Minister of the Interior, said German intelligence officials had seen such an overwhelming amount of chatter about possible attacks to the game, they felt forced to cancel it.

Maizière added, however, that officials would not comment on the exact number nor origin of the threats.

"In such a difficult situation that is in doubt, the protection of humanity is the priority," Maizière said.

Members of the German government including Chancellor Angela Merkel had not arrived, but were scheduled to attend the match to send a signal that Germany wouldn't bow to terrorism in the wake of the deadly Paris attacks on Friday.

Police officers stand outside the HDI-Arena stadium as the soccer friendly match between Germany and the Netherlands was cancelled in Hannover, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. Michael Sohn, AP

In addition to the disruption of the soccer match, Hannover police said on Facebook a concert at the Hannover Pavillion was also forced to be canceled.

At the time, Germany was playing France in a soccer friendly in the Stade de France, outside of which three suicide bombers blew themselves up, killing one bystander.

Announcements at the stadium in northern Germany advised people to go home in a calm manner, and that there was no danger to fear. Most fans were still waiting outside when the order to evacuate came about an hour and a half before kickoff.

There were no signs of panic, with most fans seemingly accepting the decision with resignation. Police became more forceful with members of the media who attempted to stay beside the stadium.

Germany press officer Jens Grittner said the team bus was redirected to a "safe place," and that was all he could say for the moment.

Security at the stadium was very tight, with police armed with machine guns and maintaining a very obvious presence in the city. Reporters arriving for the game were searched, while a sniffer dog was deployed to check their bags.

A spokesperson for Lower Saxony Minster Stephan Weil told dpa that Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere was to meet with local counterpart Boris Pistorius later Tuesday when the background details would be given at a news conference.

Meanwhile, in England, France's long-scheduled soccer match against England started without delay in London's Wembley Stadium.

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