German shopping mall shut on police fears of an attack

Police have ordered the shopping mall in the western German city of Essen not to open after receiving credible tips of an imminent attack - AP

Police in the western German city of Essen sealed off a shopping centre in the centre of town and ordered it to remain closed on Saturday due to concrete indications of a possible attack.

Germany is on high alert following major radical Islamist attacks in France and Belgium and after a failed asylum seeker from Tunisia drove a truck into a Berlin Christmas market in December, killing 12 people.

Police walks towards the Limbecker Platz shopping mall in Essen - Credit: Reuters

"Yesterday we received very serious indications from security sources that a possible attack was planned here for today and would be carried out," a spokesman for Essen police told Reuters Television.

"That is why we were forced to take these measures."

Earlier, a police spokesman told a German broadcaster that they had viewed the threat as a possible "terrorist" attack.

Police at the Limbecker Platz shopping mall in Essen, Germany, March 11, 2017, after it was shut due to attack threat. - Credit: Reuters

Armed police and vans surrounded the shopping centre, one of Germany's biggest with more than 200 retail outlets, but roads nearby were open to traffic.

Essen, in the industrial Ruhr region, has nearly 600,000 inhabitants.

The threat to the Essen shopping centre came a day after an elderly man was attacked with a machete in Dusseldorf, and a mentally ill asylum seeker wielding an axe left nine people injured at the city's train station.