Germany: Suspicious parcel held nails, powder, firecracker
Updated 5:22 am, Saturday, December 2, 2017
BERLIN (AP) — German police evacuated a popular Christmas market in the city of Potsdam on Friday before destroying a suspicious package containing nails and an unidentified powder in a controlled explosion, officials said.
There were no injuries reported in the evacuation or demolition of the package, which authorities said did not appear to include a fuse or other parts for a detonation. Potsdam police said it was too soon who may have been responsible.
Police were alerted at about 2:30 p.m. (1330 GMT; 8:30 a.m. EST) after the package was delivered to a pharmacy on the same street as the Christmas market, police spokesman Peter Meyritz told the Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten newspaper. Wires and other items that aroused suspicion were found inside, he said.
Meyritz wasn't immediately available to provide further details, but told the newspaper that the package measured about 40 centimeters by 50 centimeters (16 inches by 20 inches) and was apparently delivered by a messenger service.
Police said later on Twitter that the package included "a cylindrical object with cables, batteries and nails but at this point no ignition device has been found."
Brandenburg state's top security official, Interior Minister Karl-Heinz Schroeter, said it also held a large firecracker without a fuse, Germany's dpa news agency reported on Friday night.
Schroeter told reporters at the scene earlier that nails and a powder were inside the parcel.
The Christmas market was evacuated to allow explosives experts to secure the device and destroy it in place outside the pharmacy in Potsdam, the capital of the state of Brandenburg, just outside of Berlin.
Residents of the street were told to stay in the back of their homes while the procedure was carried out.
"The evaluation and analysis is just beginning now," Schroeter said. "If it was really explosive or if it was a fake or a dummy, we will only know through further investigation."
Christmas markets are extremely popular in Germany and have increased security this year following the deadly truck attack at a market in downtown Berlin last December.
In that case, a Tunisian man hijacked a truck and drove it into a crowded market, killing 12 people in an attack that was later claimed by the Islamic State group. The suspect, Anis Amri, fled to Italy after the Dec. 19 attack and died in a shootout with police near Milan on Dec. 23, 2016.