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German Police Say Syrian Planning Attack Was Nabbed By Fellow Refugees

The apartment (upper right) in a communist-era housing block in Leipzig, a city in eastern Germany is the location where a Syrian man, suspected of plotting a jihadist bomb attack, was arrested on Monday. After a nationwide manhunt, the man was caught by fellow Syrian refugees. The case has sparked fresh calls for greater checks on asylum seekers.

After a nationwide manhunt, authorities in Germany have arrested a Syrian refugee who was allegedly planning a bomb attack.

The man, identified as Jaber al-Bakr, is likely linked to ISIS, authorities say.

He was caught after fellow Syrian refugees recognized him, held him at an apartment in Leipzig and notified police, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports.

Some media reports suggest that al-Bakr approached fellow Syrian refugees in Leipzig and asked if he could spend the night with them. The other Syrians, recognizing him, told him he could stay and then tied him up and alerted police.

German authorities would not confirm all the details about how al-Bakr was located. But officials did say that three Syrian men found him and recognized him from police wanted posters, The Associated Press reports.

One of the men then went to a police station with a photo of the suspect and urged police to come arrest him, the AP says. Police came to raid the apartment after midnight on Monday morning.

"The suspect was handed over to us bound," Saxony criminal police chief Joerg Michaelis said Monday, according to the AP.

Al-Bakr had been on the run since Saturday, when federal intelligence agents gave police a tip and they raided an apartment in Chemnitz, Germany.

Another man was arrested in that raid, Soraya explains:

"A second suspect in the alleged bomb plot was arrested Saturday. Police only identified him by his first name and last initial, Kalil A, and say he shared an apartment with Al-Bakr in the nearby city of Chemnitz.

"It's in that apartment that a SWAT team on Saturday uncovered fuses and more than 100 grams of what officials say appeared to be TATP, a highly volatile substance that was also used in earlier bombing attacks in Paris and Brussels."

Police saw al-Bakr fleeing the apartment and one fired a warning shot, but he escaped, and was on the run on Saturday and Sunday.

In addition to gathering explosive materials, al-Bakr had searched for instructions on how to make "equipment for jihad," the AP reports, but investigators say there's no evidence he had selected a target to attack.

Both al-Bakr and "Kalil A" arrived in Germany last year seeking asylum and were granted refugee status for three years, Soraya says, citing German officials.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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