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Frankfurt Prosecutor: Couple Arrested on Suspicion of Plotting ‘Criminal Act’

MAINZ, Germany — A popular German bicycle road race was canceled Thursday after authorities arrested a married couple in a raid at their home that uncovered bomb-making chemicals and heavy weapons, German authorities said.

Frankfurt prosecutor Albrecht Schreiber said that a 35-year-old man and his 34-year-old wife were detained on suspicion of plotting a "severe criminal act." A pipe bomb, practice ammunition for a bazooka, an assault rifle and about 100 bullets were found in their home — along with diesel fuel and three liters of hydrogen peroxide.

Those items "could be used for the building of a bomb," Schreiber added, saying the couple also had several “conservative religious texts” in their apartment.

The international race was scheduled to take place in and around the greater Frankfurt area on Friday.

“Because of a present and still unclear threat situation and the link to tomorrow’s bicycle race, the event unfortunately has to be cancelled for security reasons," German state police said in a statement.

Schreiber said the two had been monitored by German police for a month and that the timing of the raid was influenced by the suspect’s surveillance of the area where the race was due to come through the town.

Authorities were tipped to the male suspect at the end of last month, when a worker at a store selling highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide — which can be used as an ingredient in an explosive called triacetone triperoxide — reported that he had purchase some of the chemical, a police official said.

Investigators found that the man, described as "German-Turkish," had connections to the "Islamic-Salafist scene" in the Rhein-Main region of Frankfurt, police chief Stefan Mueller said.

German security sources told NBC News partner ZDF, a German television network, that the male suspect hadn't been an Islamist for long, but had contact with Adem Yilmaz, arrested as part of a 2007 bomb plot. The man also has a criminal record, with arrests for theft, fraud and weapon possession, the sources told ZDF.

Authorities are still investigating if the man was working with any other people, and if there were other possible targets, ZDF reported.

The man was taken into custody before midnight Thursday, and his wife was arrested later in the apartment in the town of Oberursel, where two young children were known to reside as well.

"We are trying to identify whether more people are in danger," Mueller said.

But he would not say whether the bicycle race would be subject to increased security.

"We talked about the Boston marathon (during our assessment) yesterday," Mueller said.

The couple — who have not been named — remained in police custody Thursday.

— Andy Eckardt