Berlin Police Seize Weapons, Arrest Eight in String of Crime Raids

Authorities carried out 16 raids, resulting in the arrest of 8 people of Arab origin suspected of robbery, incitement to contract killing and possession of illegal weapons.

Police vehicles stand in front of a house in Neukoelln during a raid in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, April 12, 2016.
Gregor Fischer/AP

Eight people of Arab origin who are suspected of crimes including involvement in a robbery at Berlin's best-known department store and incitement to a contract killing were arrested in the German capital Tuesday, police said.

Authorities carried out 16 raids early Tuesday on the basis of investigations and witness testimony, according to the capital's police force. It said in a statement that the information led them to suspected "criminal members of large families of Arab origin aged from 20 to 56."

They are suspected of offenses including involvement in a 2014 robbery at the KaDeWe department store in which jewelry and watches were stolen, incitement to a contract killing and illegal weapons possession. Police spokesman Stefan Redlich told n-tv television that authorities seized a gun, ammunition, cash, jewelry and a Porsche car, among other things.

Berlin's top security official, Frank Henkel, welcomed what he called a "blow against organized crime." He said it was encouraging and "unusual for this scene" that witnesses had come forward.

The suspects are long-term residents in Germany, not recent arrivals.