World (AP)

Several more people arrested over a far-right German plot to launch a coup and kidnap a minister | AP News

Several more people arrested over a far-right German plot to launch a coup and kidnap a minister | AP News

BERLIN (AP) — Several more people suspected of being involved in planning a far-right coup and plotting to kidnap the German health minister were arrested in raids in a number of regions on Tuesday, authorities said.

Prosecutors have said the group intended to create “conditions similar to civil war” by using explosives to cause nationwide blackouts, then kidnapping Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, who was a prominent advocate of strict coronavirus measures. There were no indications the group was close to launching a coup.

Five people already went on trial in May over the alleged plot by the group calling itself United Patriots. Prosecutors say the group is linked to the Reich Citizens scene, which rejects the legitimacy of Germany’s postwar constitution and has similarities to the Sovereign Citizens and QAnon movements in the United States.

Authorities in several German regions carried out raids on Tuesday and detained more people.

Frankfurt prosecutors said a man arrested in the central state of Hesse is accused of offering to help with Lauterbach’s kidnapping and to use his garage to store weapons. Once the coup was launched, they said, he was supposed to be part of a delegation that would sail into Russia waters and negotiate an alliance with officials there.

Munich prosecutors said a man arrested in nearby Wolfratshausen is accused of offering to participate in Lauterbach’s kidnapping and to procure firearms in Croatia to carry it out.

There were also arrests in western and southwestern Germany.

The first suspects were arrested last year. Police at the time seized 22 firearms, including a Kalashnikov rifle, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, as well as large sums of cash, gold and silver.

Lauterbach wrote Tuesday on X, formerly Twitter: “I thank investigators, to whom I probably owe my life.”

The case is separate from that of the more than two dozen people arrested in December, also for planning to topple the government. Among the plotters in that case was a member of the far-right Alternative for Germany party.