A parcel containing an explosive device was on Tuesday intercepted at German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s offices, hours after parcel bombs exploded at the Russian and Swiss embassies in Athens.
The parcel bomb, purportedly sent by the Greek Economic Ministry, was addressed to Ms. Merkel personally and security officials in the chancellery detected it during routine scanning of the mail, a government spokesman said.
The bomb was defused by bomb disposal specialists using a water cannon.
Chancellor Merkel was visiting Belgium when the package was delivered by a United Parcel Service (UPS) courier to the chancellery.
The spokesman said the Chancellor’s office was not in danger at any time because the parcel bomb was detected in a separate part of the building several metres away.
That area was cordoned off and the entrance to the chancellery was closed for an hour after the discovery of the bomb, but the building was not evacuated.
The bomb was detected after the security officials controlling the mail became suspicious of the sender, the Economic Ministry of Greece in Athens. They immediately alerted bomb disposal squad, who deactivated the package.
Germany’s counter-terrorism agency BKA has opened an investigation into the issue.
The authorities have not given details about the explosive device, but media reports quoting security officials said it would have exploded causing serious injuries if someone had tried to open the parcel.
The discovery of the parcel bomb in Berlin comes in the midst of global concern over a wave of fresh terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda following last week’s interception in the U.K. and in Dubai of two air freight packages sent from Yemen.
Therefore, the initial suspicion was that the packet in Berlin too may have come from Yemen.
However, unlike the two parcel bombs seized in Britain and Dubai, which were carrying powerful plastic explosive PETN hidden inside printer toner cartridges, the package found in Berlin contained far less harmful explosive material, according to security experts.
They believe that the package for Ms. Merkel may have been sent by leftist extremists in Greece, who blame the European Union and its leading members such as Germany for their country’s economic woes.
Leftist extremists have been fighting the government by staging a wave of attacks against the police during the last two years.
Greek authorities have said that they had intercepted a parcel bomb addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy amid a wave of packet bomb attacks in Athens.
Two small parcel bombs exploded outside the embassies of Russia and Switzerland while packets containing explosive devices were sent to the diplomatic missions of Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and Mexico.