Czech police said they have arrested a man who was planning a massacre similar to the murders carried out in Norway last summer by Anders Bering Breivik.
According to reports, police found functional explosives, weapons and ammunition as well as police uniforms and masks at the suspect’s apartment in the town of Ostrava, near the Polish border.
Police raided the flat after receiving a tip that the suspect was planning to detonate an explosive device that was made from parts of a bomb. The raid was carried out by commando forces on August 10 after eighty of the suspect’s neighbors were evacuated.
Upon his arrest, the suspect was also found to be in possession of a remote-controlled detonator.
"The components of the explosive device were operational,” said Ostrava police chief Radovan Votja, suggesting an attack was imminent.
The 29-year-old suspect – who was using the name ‘Breivik’ on internet postings and emails, detectives said -- has been charged with unlawful possession of weapons and posing a danger to the public.
Neighbors of the man told Czech media that they believe he is mentally ill, but does not appear to be an extremist.
BBC reported that the suspect, whose name has not been released, already has five convictions on his record, including one for blowing up a wooden shed. He also received a six-month suspended sentence for trying to detonate a homemade device at an Ostrava gas station.
However, police said they do not know who the suspect was planning to target, but added they will probe for any possible links to Breivik.
"We are working with the idea that this… man probably sympathizes with known murderer, Anders Breivik from Norway," Tomas Tuhy, the director of the regional headquarters of the Czech police, told reporters.
Last July, Breivik killed a total of 77 people in and around Oslo – eight in a bomb attack in the city, the other 69 at a youth camp run by the Labour Party on the island of Utoeya. He claimed he committed the murders to protest what he termed the “Muslim invasion” on Norway through immigration.
The massacre was the worst act of violence in Norway since the end of World War II.
Excluding the July 1995 mass killing of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica (which occurred under the auspices of civil wars in the former Yugoslavia), the Breivik murders were the deadliest ‘peacetime’ atrocity in Europe since the end of the Second World War.
However, in recent years, Europe has witnessed a number of mass shootings -- the types one associates more with the United States.
Earlier this year, an Islamist gunman named Mohamed Merah killed seven people in an around Toulouse in the south of France in two separate incidents. He was subsequently shot dead by French police.
In December 2011, a far-right Italian gunman named Gianluca Casseri murdered two street vendors from the African nation of Senegal in Florence.
Just days prior to the Florence incident, a lone gunman named Nordine Amrani killed three people in a rampage targeting Christmas shoppers in the city of Liege in eastern Belgium.
Six people died in a mass shooting at a shopping mall in Netherlands in the small town of Alphen aan den Rijn, just south of Amsterdam, in April 2011.
In June 2010, a taxi driver murdered 12 people and wounded dozens of other in a shooting spree across Cumbria in England.