Germany cancelled a football match against Holland in Hanover last night just 90 minutes before kick-off after receiving ‘concrete information’ about a terror threat.
A concert venue in the city was also evacuated amid heightened security concerns in the wake of last week’s atrocities in Paris.
One report on a local newspaper website claimed an ambulance packed with explosives was found outside the HDI Arena.
There were also reports of a known trouble-maker, who was held at gunpoint by police outside the ground.
According to an NTV reporter on CNN, a second suspicious device was found in a train station close to the stadium.
Announcements at the 45,000-capacity stadium in northern Germany advised fans to leave calmly and that there was no danger. Most fans were still waiting outside when the order to evacuate came.
It came as spectators in the 14,000-capacity TUI-Arena, which is located close-by, were evacuated. A band, The Söhne Mannheims, were meant to be playing there tonight. The gig is expected to go ahead as planned.
Top government officials including Chancellor Angela Merkel had been scheduled to attend the match to send a signal that Germany wouldn’t bow to terrorism in the wake of the Paris attacks.
In a press conference German Minister of Interior Thomas de Meizere said: ‘There is a general threat. Regularly we receive information about threats against Germany, especially after an attack like in Paris.
‘We have to analyse them, and need to judge them properly and fast.
‘Ahead of this match we got more information that made us make the decision to cancel the game.
‘The information came late, we couldn’t do it earlier. I cannot give any comment on the source–that would make our work harder in future.’
Boris Pistorius, the local interior minister, said: ‘This was a bitter decision, especially for me as Minister of Interior and Sports, but we made it for the security of the people.
‘It would have been irresponsible, we had no doubt.
‘We will have a greater police presence in Hanover all night.’
Police had earlier sealed off the ground after finding a suitcase before allowing fans to enter.
The German national team was just 5km from the stadium and they were taken to a police station but have now left. The Dutch players were sent home after space on a flight was found.
German team spokesman on Twitter wrote: ‘We were re-routed on our way to the stadium and are now in a safe area.
‘We cannot say more at this moment.’
At tonight’s press conference German FA official Reiner Rauball was asked by a reporter of the German team were the terror threat’s target.
He said: ‘We’re not sure if they were the main target. We cannot say yet how this will affect the coming matches.
Local interior minister Boris Pistorius added: ‘We cannot confirm yet that there were explosives in any ambulance.’
A German official said no arrests had been made.
Prior to tonight’s fixture Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger withdrew from playing in tonight’s friendly following the terror attacks in Paris on Friday night.
Security services told German news agency DPA the threat came from Islamists.
Hanover Police President Volker Kluwe told state broadcaster ARD that authorities had taken seriously indications of a planned attack with explosives, but did not elaborate further.
‘The visitors (spectators), who were already in the stadium at that time, were asked to leave the stadium without panicking,’ police said in a brief statement.
It is believed special police task force and anti-terrorism units have been sent to the stadium.
After Friday’s attacks in Paris, security measures in Hanover had been tight.
Sky Sport News Germany are now reporting that there is an immediate threat and the terror warning has been extended to all of Hanover. Speaking at a press conference, the police chief said people in city should go home and avoid large groups.
England scout Alan Cork, who admitted he feared for his life during Friday night’s terrorist attacks in Paris when he attending the Stade de France, was also due to attend tonight’s game.
On Twitter he wrote: ‘Can’t believe this trying to get into stadium, game off as police find bag inside, back to hotel quickly.’
He later wrote: ‘Stadium evacuated, back at hotel now.’
Security in the area had been 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.
Trains travelling away from the area were later stopped.
Former Holland international Ruud Gullit tweeted: ‘I am now on the stadium of #hannover for the game #germany-#holland. They just suspended the game and are going to inform us why.’
The postponement comes just four days after Germany’s match against France in Paris was targeted by terrorists as part of a coordinated attack on the capital.
Although a man wearing a suicide belt was prevented from entering the Stade de France last Friday, three explosions later took place outside the ground.
Two of the explosions were heard during the friendly which was played to a conclusion with France winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and Andre-Pierre Gignac.
The German squad spent the night in the ground before returning home on Saturday.