Police in eastern Germany carried out raids early on Wednesday as they investigated alleged threats to kill a state governor over coronavirus restrictions and vaccinations.
Several properties in Dresden were being searched in a probe into suspected plans for a serious act of violence, police said on Twitter.
The investigation was triggered by a report last week on ZDF television that a group on messenger service Telegram discussed plans to kill Saxony’s state governor, Michael Kretschmer, and other members of the state government.
Dresden is the capital of Saxony, which has seen frequent protests against coronavirus restrictions and has Germany’s lowest vaccination rate.
According to the report, the group’s 103 members shared a rejection of vaccinations, the state and the current coronavirus policy. It featured audio messages in which people called for measures to be opposed “with armed force if necessary,” directed against Kretschmer and others.
Police have said that comments by some members on their alleged possession of weapons and crossbows are part of the investigation, which began the day after the broadcast on December 7.
Faced with a violent fourth wave of the pandemic, the German government has decided to tighten restrictions on unvaccinated people. They are now deprived of access to most public places, restaurants and non-essential shops.
Kretschmer was one of the first state leaders to cancel events like Christmas markets and restrict access for the unvaccinated to some public places.
Social Democratic Party (SPD) politician Sebastian Fiedler, an expert on security issues, told the Bild newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday that an estimated 15,000-20,000 opponents of the health measures are ready to use violence.