Explosive packages sent to leaders of Germany, Italy

Berlin, Germany (CNN) — The discovery Tuesday of a number of packages containing bombs — including ones addressed to the leaders of Germany and Italy — led authorities in Europe to scramble to safeguard the public and underscored the difficulty of ensuring its safety.

A package containing explosives was found at the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday and was handed over to police, her spokesman said.

The package had been shipped via cargo plane from Greece, said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere. Greece has seen a wave of attempted bombings in the past day.

The package, addressed to Merkel herself, was found during a routine inspection in the office mail room, according to de Maiziere and Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert.

In addition, two other parcels containing explosives were discovered in the cargo section of the Athens airport on Tuesday, police spokesman Thanassis Kokkalakis said.

They were addressed to the European Union law enforcement agency (Europol), based in The Hague, Netherlands, and the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, Kokkalakis said.

Both parcels were detonated, he said.

Details of the types of explosives discovered were not immediately available.

In Bologna, Italy, police said they found a package containing an explosive device addressed to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Authorities offered no details of what type of explosive the package contained except to say that while detonating it, it produced a “burst of flame,” a police officer said. The officer described the package as “potentially harmful.”

The cargo flight aboard which the package was found is part of the shipping company TNT. The flight originated in Athens, Greece, and was headed for Paris, France, and on to a city in Belgium, where the company has a shipping hub. It was diverted to Bologna instead.

It was TNT that informed authorities of the suspected package. The flight landed at 10 p.m. local time Tuesday.

Amid the spate of reports, Greece’s Public Order Ministry announced it was suspending for 48 hours all air shipments of packages from Greece to other countries.

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