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Germany

Berlin bomb scare: package addressed to Merkel contained explosives

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for stricter international controls on cargo. No one was injured after a package from Greece that contained explosive material arrived at the chancellery in Berlin.

The chancellery in Berlin

A parcel bomb made its way to Merkel's office in Berlin

There are still many questions about the mysterious package that arrived at Chancellor Angela Merkel's office in Berlin on Tuesday. At least one thing is clear: The package did contain explosive materials. That much was confirmed by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Tuesday evening.

According to security sources in the capital, anyone who had opened the package would have been injured. It didn't get that far, however, after the package was identified as suspicious during a routine mail inspection. Bomb defusing experts rendered the package harmless with a water cannon. The chancellery was not evacuated as the mail room is in a separate building.

Merkel was not in Berlin during the incident as she is currently in Belgium on an official visit. She did say, however, that the recent series of package bombs from Greece and Yemen indicated a need for stricter controls on freight shipping in the European Union, the United States, and around the globe.

"This is urgently about implementing stricter world-wide controls to prevent terror attacks," Merkel said in an interview with the Passaue Neue Presse.

De Maiziere points to Greece

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere

De Maiziere confirmed the package was sent from Greece

De Maiziere also confirmed that the package had been sent two days ago to Berlin from Greece, where several bombs addressed to foreign embassies have been intercepted and three have ignited. The interior minister said, "Today’s situation fits into that context." He confirmed media reports that the return address on the package was listed at the Greek Economics Ministry.

Greek authorities have suspended all international mail for 48 hours from Tuesday as they conduct a further investigation.

Bombs exploded at the Swiss and Russian embassies in Athens on Tuesday, while others addressed to the Bulgarian, Chilean and German embassies were discovered and detonated in controlled explosions. Greek police say they plan to detonate another two packages recently seized at Athens airport.

On Monday, authorities intercepted and defused several other packages with explosive material inside that were addressed to other embassies, as well as to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

One package addressed to the Mexican embassy ignited in delivery service office and burned the hands of an employee. Two men were arrested on Monday in connection with the parcel bombs and Greek police suspect far-left extremists are behind the attacks.

No connection with Yemen

Initial theories about the incident included the possibility that the package could have been sent from Yemen, the focus of recent security attention worldwide. However, de Maiziere said Tuesday's incident had nothing to do with Yemen.

Over the weekend two freight packages on their way to the US from Yemen were intercepted in Europe and Dubai and found to contain bombs. Germany and other countries have responded by restricting both passenger and freight flights originating in Yemen.

Author: Bettina Marx (hf, mz)
Editor: Matt Hermann

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