German authorities intercepted a parcel bomb sent to Chancellor Angela Merkel from Greece that could have caused “not inconsiderable damage,” the government said.
Merkel was in Belgium when the parcel was discovered yesterday and no one was injured in the incident, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said. The mailing “fits into the context” of parcel bombs sent to foreign embassies in Athens this week, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said late yesterday.
Merkel called for better global coordination of cargo checks, pointing to the Berlin incident and the air-freight bombs discovered last week originating in Yemen bound for synagogues in Chicago, the Passauer Neue Presse reported.
“Terrorism can only be fought if we marshal our forces worldwide,” the newspaper cited her as saying in an interview in today’s edition. “The threat is there. Everyone has the duty to be vigilant.”
The “small parcel,” mailed three days ago to the Chancellery in central Berlin, was discovered at noon yesterday during a routine mail inspection and disarmed by explosives experts, Seibert told reporters.
“This was a functional explosive device,” de Maiziere said. “We haven’t determined how dangerous the explosive was, but it’s quite likely that if it was the same type of device as the package bombs in Athens, it could have caused not inconsiderable damage.”
The device was contained in a parcel with a book addressed to Merkel and listing the Greek Economy Ministry as the sender, German officials said. It was sent from Greece by air cargo, de Maiziere said.
Greek authorities found parcel bombs addressed to the Belgian embassy in Greece and to French President Nicolas Sarkozy on two men arrested in Athens on Nov. 1. Small parcel bombs exploded yesterday at the Swiss and Russian embassies in Athens, and police said at least three more packages addressed to foreign missions including the German embassy were disarmed.
“There’s no evidence of any connection” to the air-cargo bombs originating in Yemen that were discovered last week, de Maiziere said. “Although it did come on a cargo plane.”
The Interior Ministry ordered German government offices to step up vigilance for suspicious parcels, de Maiziere said. Germany’s Federal Crime Bureau is investigating the incident.