Football Football

Dortmund bus hit by blasts injuring Bartra

Borussia Dortmund’s damaged bus is pictured after an explosion some 10km away from the stadium prior to the UEFA Champions League 1st leg quarter-final football match BVB Borussia Dortmund v Monaco in Dortmund, western Germany on April 11, 2017

DORTMUND, Germany, Apr 11 – Three explosions rocked the Borussia Dortmund bus, injuring Spanish international Marc Bartra, as the German team headed for a Champions League game against Monaco on Tuesday, police said.

Bartra was taken to hospital and the quarter-final match was postponed until Wednesday because of the attack. Other Dortmund players were said to be “shocked” but safe.

The bus had set off from the team hotel for the Borussia stadium about 10 kilometres (six miles) away when “three explosive charges detonated,” said a police spokesman, Gunnar Wortmann.

The explosives, which went off shortly after 7.00pm (1700 GMT), were hidden in a hedge and were set off as the bus passed, according to German media.

Security sources said there was no immediate sign of an organised “terrorist” attack, the DPA news agency reported.

The bus windows were shattered and the bus was burned on the right hand side. Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said Bartra, 26, was being treated in hospital for a hand injury.

The club said other players were safe and there was no danger inside the Signal Iduna Park stadium.

Star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was seen being led away from the team bus through the traffic.

Dortmund’s Spanish defender Marc Bartra was injured after he was hit by splinters of broken glass during three explosions rocked the Borussia Dortmund bus © AFP/File / John MACDOUGALL

“The bus turned onto the main road, when there was a huge noise – a big explosion,” Dortmund’s Swiss goalkeeper Roman Burki told Swiss media.

“After the bang, we all crouched down in the bus. Anyone who could, threw himself on the floor.

“We did not know if more would come.”

Burki said Bartra was “hit by splinters of broken glass”.

“There has been an attack with explosives on the team bus,” said Dortmund CEO Watzke.

“The whole team is in a state of shock, you can’t get pictures like that out of your head.

“I hope the team will be in a position to be able to compete tomorrow on the pitch.

“In a crisis situation like this, Borussia pulls together.”

– In shock –

The announcement that the game was postponed until Wednesday was only made to the stunned stadium about 15 minutes before the game was due to start.

Dortmund’s Norbert Dickel announces the postponement of the match after the team bus of Borussia Dortmund had some windows broken by an explosion prior to the UEFA Champions League match BVB Borussia Dortmund v Monaco on April 11, 2017

UEFA said the match will now be played on Wednesday at 18.45 (1645 GMT), adding that the decision was made in consultation with the club and local authorities.

Dortmund relayed a copy of its Twitter announcement of the explosions inside the stadium to inform fans of events.

The club also urged fans in the stadium not to panic. “We recommend to stay in the stadium and to keep calm to ensure an orderly departure.”

The stadium slowly emptied out, before Monaco players came on the pitch for a short training session.

Dortmund’s president Reinhard Rauball said he believed the players would be ready for Wednesday’s game.

“The players will be able to push this out of their minds and be in a position to put in their ususal performances,” said Rauball defiantly.

“The worst thing would be if whoever committed this attack was now able to get to affect them through it.”

But ex-Dortmund player Steffen Freund, who won the Champions League with Borussia in 1997, said there would be scars.

“When there has been a direct attack on the team bus, then it’s not just forgotten by Wednesday,” said the 47-year-old.

“Mentally and psychologically that is hard to absorb, it’s a lot to deal with.”

Germany has been on a high alert since last December’s attack in Berlin, when a Tunisian national hijacked a truck and rammed it into a crowd, killing 12 people.

Monaco supporters with Borussia scarves react in the stadium after the match was postponed amid an explosion near the bus of Borussia Dortmund prior to the UEFA Champions League 1st leg quarter-final football match on April 11, 2017 © AFP / Odd ANDERSEN

The German national team, which included some Dortmund players, was also in the Stade de France in Paris when jihadists launched their attacks in the French capital, leaving about 130 dead.

The German team spent the night at the stadium, which was one of the targets of the Islamist suicide bombers. Their match against France had gone ahead despite the assault and the squad flew home the next morning, shaken.

Four days later, a Germany-Netherlands friendly in Hanover was called off at short notice because of fears of an attack.

Bartra’s former team Barcelona quickly expressed sympathy to the player and the German club. “All of our support to , and their fans,” said a Barcelona Twitter statement.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy also wished Bartra “a speedy recovery,” on his Twitter account.