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Greece grounds international mail as parcel bomb investigation continues

Authorities in Greece have grounded all international mail as an investigation continues into a series of parcel bombs addressed to international targets inside and outside the country.

Packages stacked in a warehouse

International mail has been grounded in Greece

Following a series of parcel bombs addressed to international targets, Greek police have issued a 48-hour ban on all international deliveries as an investigation into the incidents continues.

A bomb squad member in a full body protective suit

Bomb squads in Greece have had their hands full

In total, Greek police are looking into around 13 packages containing bombs that were addressed to foreign politicians or delivered to foreign embassies in Athens.

One package reached the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, but was discovered and diffused without causing damage or injuries.

Another package addressed to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was discovered on a cargo plane flying to Paris from Athens. The plane made an emergency landing in Bologna, and the package caught fire while being checked by authorities on the ground.

A third package led to the arrest of two suspects on Monday. The two men, aged 22 and 24, were discovered with a package containing explosives that was addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Searching for suspects

The Swiss, Russian, Chilean and Bulgarian embassies in Athens were also among the targets of the letter bombs.

A police officer patrols the German Chancellory

A bomb made it to the German Chancellory

Most of the bombs were destroyed in controlled blasts by police, but there was an explosion at the Swiss embassy that resulted in no injuries.

Police believe the packages are being sent by far-left militants, who are thought to have carried out small bomb attacks on political and international targets in the past.

In addition to Monday's two arrests, police have released photos of five militants believed to be connected to the parcel bombs.

On Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said the suspects were "trying in vain to disrupt social peace in the country with criminal acts."

Tighter controls

Chancellor Merkel was on an official visit to Belgium at the time the package was discovered in Berlin. She did say, however, that the recent series of package bombs from Greece and Yemen indicated a need for stricter controls on freight shipping between 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 Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.

Author: Matt Zuvela (AFP, Reuters, AP)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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