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Berlin suicide bomb suspect 'showed no risk' before killing himself

Prison official says Jabr al-Bakr, arrested after possible 'suicide-bomb vest' found in his flat, was 'quiet and calm' before he was found dead
Bakr was apprehended by three other Syrians in Leipzig (AFP)

A Syrian suspect arrested over a Berlin bomb plot was not viewed as an "acute" suicide risk, a German prison official said on Thursday, after the 22-year-old hanged himself with his T-shirt in a police cell.

Jaber al-Bakr was "quiet and calm, there was no indication of emotional issues", said Rolf Jacob, who heads the prison service in the eastern city of Leipzig, adding that Bakr had been checked on more than once an hour.

Bakr was arrested on Monday after a two-day search following the discovery by police of explosives in his apartment in Chemnitz.

He was found dead on Wednesday in a cell at the Leipzig correctional hospital.

Bakr had narrowly evaded police commandos on Saturday morning, but was arrested some 48 hours later thanks to three Syrian refugees who recognised him, tied him up and handed him to police.

Germany's domestic security service had alerted police last Friday that Bakr may have been plotting a bomb attack, and police investigators have since said he was thought to have had links with the Islamic State (IS) group.

Police who went to his flat then discovered 1.5kg of TATP, a homemade explosive used by IS militants in the Paris and Brussels attacks.

Investigators said the explosives were "almost ready or even ready for use", and that Bakr was apparently preparing a "bomb, possibly in the form of a suicide vest".

While on the run, Bakr contacted the three Syrians, who put him up in their flat in Leipzig. They turned him in to police when they realised he was wanted. Bakr had offered them money to let him go, they later said.

The Bild daily newspaper described the trio as "the Syrian heroes from Leipzig", while calls have grown to honour and reward them.

German news agency DPA said Bakr had told the police that the three Syrians had been complicit in his attack plans, but it was unclear whether police took that claim seriously.

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