Grenade at Croatian embassy in Berlin

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Berlin police on Monday recovered a grenade in a parcel delivered to the Croatian embassy, two days before the country's president was to visit the German capital.

"Police units are at the scene," the spokesman told AFP.

"It (the grenade) has been removed by technical experts from the Berlin police force and taken to a place where it will be blown up."

After conflicting reports as to whether the object was in fact a weapon, a police spokeswoman told AFP that a preliminary investigation had confirmed it was a grenade and "dangerous".

Meanwhile, the Croatian foreign ministry in Zagreb said that authorities in Berlin had established that the package contained a hand grenade type M 75 and that it was accompanied by a "threatening letter" but police declined to confirm this.

A spokesman for the embassy in Berlin said that the letter, written in Croatian, had been handed over to German authorities and was received in a courier package sent from Germany.

Berlin police said they had no leads yet on possible suspects or motives, but the incident came ahead of a three-day visit by Croatian President Ivo Josipovic from Wednesday.

"There were no threats as far as we know," the police spokesman said.

The scare also happened the same day as 13 suspects of a Greek radical anarchist group that has staged bomb attacks against state buildings and foreign embassies went on trial in Athens.

One of the more than a dozen packages allegedly sent in November by the Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, as the Greek group is known, made it to the mailroom at the offices of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

The Croatian foreign ministry also said that security measures had been stepped up after bomb blasts in the Chilean and Swiss embassies in Rome in late December that injured two people.

Officials in Italy said they may have been carried out by anarchists such as the ones behind a similar plot in Greece.

Police in Berlin said that an embassy employee opened at around 1:00 pm (1200 GMT) a package that had been delivered there. After finding the object she called the police, who sealed off the area.

President Josipovic was due to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday. On Wednesday he was to meet the speaker of parliament, Norbert Lammert.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement that he was relieved that nobody was injured and that he would discuss the incident with Croatian counterpart Gordan Jandrokovic by phone later on Monday.

"Germany will do everything to guarantee the protection and security of foreign missions.

"The upcoming visit of the Croatian president will continue to be prepared for with the utmost care," the statement said.

Jandrokovic later told national radio he talked by phone with Westerwelle over the incident.

"We are still in contact with German police. Right now I don't have an information about who is behind this crazy act," Jandrokovic told national radio.

"German Foreign Minister Westerwelle just called me and voiced his shock. He guaranteed the safety of both the Croatian embassy and the Croatian president, who is to visit Germany in the coming days. He also guaranteed a rapid search for the perpetrators," Jandrokovic said.

© 2011 AFP

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