Suspicious package part of extortion plot in Germany

Danny Woods
December 6, 2017

A "nail bomb" package that sparked a mass evacuation at a Christmas market near Berlin was part of a "blackmail plot" to extort millions from a delivery company.

Brandenburg state Interior Minister Karl-Heinz Schroeter told reporters at the scene that it would take some time to analyze the powder.

But officials on Sunday ruled out a terror motive after finding a blackmail letter targeted at DHL, whose services were used to deliver the parcel.

The object was delivered to a pharmacy in the same street as the market in Potsdam, 17 miles outside the German capital.

The German logistics market leader, which is part of Deutsche Post, delivered 1.2bn parcels in the country a year ago, including 8.4m packages on its Christmas peak day alone. It also contained a blackmail letter encrypted in the form of a QR code, police chief Hans-Juergen Moerke said.

Police information indicates that the package was dropped off at the local DHL packing station in Potsdam on Thursday.

Preliminary information indicates that the perpetrators were located in the German state of Brandenburg, or neighboring Berlin.

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The object was found Friday afternoon.

The parcel had contained materials to create a bomb, including about 100 nails, an unidentified powdered substance, and a metal cylinder.

On Sunday, however, officials said that forensic teams examined the package and determined it was unsafe and that there was a "high likelihood of it being capable of activation". The detonation may have have been avoided due to sheer luck.

Despite earlier indications that the device could not have gone off because of the lack of a detonator, Schroeter said that further analysis had shown the device to be "highly dangerous" and capable of seriously injuring people.

They said they have not found any explosives but "the investigation continues".

According to the police, such packages may have unclear, missing or unfamiliar information on who sent it, spelling mistakes, protruding wires, or smudges on the container.

'If you get a suspicious package, do not open it.

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