German Christmas market bomb scare 'a bid to blackmail DHL'

В Германии экстренно эвакуирован рождественский рынок

В Германии экстренно эвакуирован рождественский рынок

Brandenburg state Interior Minister Karl-Heinz Schroeter told reporters the package was part of a scheme to extort millions of dollars from delivery company DHL.

According to Brandenburg's Interior Minister Carl Heidel Schreetter, blackmail to the postal company DHL was hiding behind the packet with the explosive device that was detected last Friday at the Christmas market in Potsdam and handed over to a pharmacy. It also contained a blackmail letter encrypted in the form of a QR code, Brandenburg police chief Hans-Juergen Moerke said.

It is unlikely that the market itself was a target, said Mr Schroeter. The package was said to contain a metal cylinder, nails, some sort of powder and large fireworks. Officials declined to say if they had any clues about the sender's identity.

After the Friday incident, police initially reported that it did not find a detonator and that the box likely contained no explosives, indicating it was a fake bomb.

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They now think it could have exploded but did not elaborate as to why.

Further attempts to extort money from other companies or private individuals are likely, he said.

An unknown sender, spelling mistakes or wires hanging out of a package could all be indications of a letter bomb, he said, adding that police had activated a hotline to deal with public concerns.

The package triggered the evacuation of a popular Christmas market in downtown Potsdam on Friday afternoon.

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However, authorities said at the press conference that the package would have had the worst injuries in case of explosion. They warned people, especially small business owners, not to open suspicious shipments and call the police instead.

Germany has been on high alert for possible jihadist attacks after last December's deadly assault at a Christmas market in central Berlin.

The German logistics market leader, which is part of Deutsche Post, delivered 1.2bn parcels in the country previous year, including 8.4m packages on its Christmas peak day alone.

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