Munich’s annual Oktoberfest opens amid tight security

Source:AFP Published: 2016/9/18 18:43:40

The Oktoberfest, Munich's annual beer festival, opened on Saturday with a stronger police presence than usual after a string of attacks in recent months in Germany.

In the southern region of Bavaria, where Munich is located, two attacks by jihadists took place over the summer and another one committed by a migrant with psychiatric problems in which nine people died.

Munich's mayor, Dieter Reiter,  officially opened the festival's 183rd edition at noon (1000 GMT).

For the first time, the Theresienwiese, the open space that hosts the Oktoberfest until October 3, is fenced off.

Large bags are banned and 600 police officers are permanently on duty instead of the usual 500. Video surveillance has also been boosted.

"We have already noticed that people's sense of security has deteriorated. So we want to show that with more officers we are ready," Munich's deputy police chief Werner Feiler said Saturday.

Organizers are worried that security concerns will mean fewer people will come to the festival this year.

In 2015, when Bavaria received record numbers of migrants, some 5.9 million people came to the Oktoberfest, 400,000 fewer than in 2014.

In July of this year, teenager David Ali Sonboly, a German-Iranian, shot dead nine people and injured 35 in a shopping center before killing himself.

Four days earlier, a 17-year-old asylum seeker went on a rampage with an axe and a knife on a train in Bavaria, injuring five people.

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