German Christmas market evacuated over bomb scare

Security officials have since confirmed that the package contained wires, nails and a powder

German Christmas market evacuated over bomb scare

Police close the streets around a Christmas market after a suspicious object was found in Potsdam, eastern Germany, 01-12-2017. Image: Julian Staehle/AP/Press Association Images

A Christmas market in Germany has been evacuated after the discovery of a suspected explosive device.

Potsdam police said they cleared the area around where the object was found and were investigating.

The device was diffused at 5:30pm local time (4:30pm Irish time), after police were called three hours earlier.

On Twitter, police said: "Suspicions of an unconventional explosive device have been confirmed."

But later they added that they were not sure whether it was a genuine explosive device or a dummy.

Police tweeted to say "no ignition device" had been found. It is not known who was behind the package.

Suspicious delivery

According to the Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten, the package was delivered to a local pharmacy, where it was opened and an employee found it was stuffed with wires.

A German security official has since confirmed that the package contained "nails and a powder."

Interior Minister Karl-Heinz Schroeter said the powder would be analysed to determine if it was genuine or a dummy.

He told reporters: "There were apparently not only nails but also powder in the canister, and that must be investigated, could it be plaster, or something that doesn't explode or is it something explosive.

"We are now carrying out searches because the package was delivered, apparently, and possibly other packages had been delivered nearby the Christmas market. That's why we are only at the beginning of our job."

Investigation

Market organiser Peter Klemm told NTV: "It's not easy when you're on the scene, we're shocked.

"But the people here understand what's going on and take the measures very seriously."

The package was reported to measure 40cm by 50cm and contain wires and electronics.
However, police warned of speculation on Twitter and told people to avoid "premature conclusions."

Police in Germany are taking extra precautions this year, following the attack on Berlin's Christmas market last year. An Islamic extremist killed 12 people when he drove a truck into crowds.

Anis Amri fled to Italy after the 19 December attack and died in a shootout with police near Milan four days later.