Merkel office receives explosive package from Greece

2nd November 2010, Comments 0 comments

A package containing explosives arrived at German Chancellor Angela Merkel's offices Tuesday in what authorities said was a thwarted attack linked to the mail bombing campaign in Greece.

Merkel, who was in Belgium on an official visit, thanked the security forces for their swift and "prudent" action, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

The parcel was discovered at the chancellery mail room addressed to Merkel at about 1200 GMT and staff alerted police to its suspicious appearance, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

Police cars were seen parked outside the sprawling complex in central Berlin's government quarter.

De Maiziere told reporters that the package had been posted from Greece two days ago and that the explosive device was built in the same way as the bomb that exploded at the Swiss embassy in Athens earlier Tuesday.

"We are in very close contact with the Greek authorities. But there was no advance warning from Greece," he said, adding that the device "could have caused not insignificant damage".

De Maiziere said this week appeared to be the first time that Greek radicals had attempted to stage attacks abroad.

A spokeswoman from the Federal Crime Office (BKA) said that complete results of the parcel's inspection would not be available before Wednesday.

"The investigation shows that the content could have at least wounded people," Seibert told a separate news conference.

During the Greek credit crisis in April, Merkel pushed hard for Athens to adopt major austerity measures before any bailout would be agreed. The subsequent budget cuts have proved deeply unpopular in Greece.

De Maiziere said security at all government mail rooms had been bolstered and ordered them to exercise particular caution with packages from Greece.

Seibert said that police had taken measures so the package would not explode or catch fire but declined to provide further details.

Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel said the package contained gunpowder with the return address given as the Greek economy ministry. It was delivered by mail delivery firm UPS.

It said police had fired water cannon at the parcel to prevent an explosion.

Neither a government spokeswoman nor the BKA confirmed the report and noted that the investigation was continuing.

Parcel bombs exploded at the Russian and Swiss embassies in Athens Tuesday and devices sent to three others were intercepted, the latest in a wave of attacks linked to left-wing extremists.

The packages were similar to four devices sent to embassies in the Greek capital and intercepted Monday, including one addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Controlled explosions were carried out by police on suspect packages addressed to the German, Chilean and Bulgarian embassies.

© 2010 AFP

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