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Germany Bomb Plot Suspect Kills Himself in Jail

A police car leaves the district court in Dresden, eastern Germany, Oct. 10, 2016, after Jaber Albakr, 22, was arrested in the eastern city of Leipzig, following a nearly two-day manhunt.

A Syrian man under arrest in Germany for allegedly planning a bomb attack killed himself Wednesday evening in a detention center in Leipzig, officials said.

Saxony's state justice ministry announced the death of Jaber Albakr, 22. One unconfirmed report said Albakr hanged himself; further details were expected Thursday.

Authorities said Albakr, who arrived in Germany last year, was close to staging an attack comparable to those that killed 130 people in Paris 11 months ago and 32 in Belgium in March of this year.

Albakr had been under surveillance by German domestic intelligence since last month. Authorities said they thought he had links to the Islamic State group and was thought to be planning to attack a Berlin airport, possibly as soon as this week.

The suicide was sure to increase pressure on Saxony state authorities, who already have been criticized for allowing Albakr to slip through their fingers Saturday as they prepared to raid an apartment where he had been staying in Chemnitz.

Albakr was seen leaving the building. Authorities fired a warning shot but did not chase him, allowing him to flee the city. Inside the apartment they found highly volatile explosives and a homemade bomb vest.

He was caught Monday after asking fellow Syrian refugees for help. They recognized him from wanted posters, tied him up in their apartment in Leipzig and alerted police.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said that Albakr had undergone a security check last year, but it did not turn up anything suspicious.

"There was a check against security authorities' data in 2015, but without any hits,'' he said. "It's not clear when he was radicalized.''