Police are currently searching for further “nail bomb” packages after a primitive explosive device was found Friday next to a children’s carousel at a Christmas market in Potsdam, near to the German capital of Berlin.
The market was immediately evacuated as special forces arrived to investigate the package, which police described as a cylindrical object — about 19 inches long and 15 inches wide — containing wires, batteries, nails and explosives. So far no ignition device has been found. Armed police surrounded the area after a local pharmacist discovered the suspected bomb.
Shortly after the package was reported, German bomb disposal officers tweeted “IED suspicion has been confirmed”, meaning that the improvised explosive device was viable. Police cleared the entire area surrounding the market and shut down all nearby streets, while a team of special forces destroyed the bomb in a controlled explosion.
Local media in Potsdam reported that the device was “mailed to a pharmacy” near to the marketplace and a children’s carousel. However, initial reports claimed that the device had been planted on the carousel itself. Police now admit they believe the suspected homemade bomb may be “one of many” and have begun a major search.
German Interior Minister Karl-Heinz Schröter announced that police had found nails inside the package and police are now searching for other improvised explosives at Christmas markets.
“We are in the process of continuing our investigation. It’s possible that additional packages were delivered here in the vicinity of the Christmas market,” he told reporters in Berlin. “We want to ensure that no one is any danger,” said Schröter, but then appeared to contradict earlier reports from special forces, adding: “We just don’t know at this point if this was a device that could have actually exploded or a fake or a test.”
Local police also changed their story, tweeting: “What [the device] is exactly we cannot say”. They also urged citizens to avoid making “premature conclusions” and incendiary posts on social media, stating that the investigation is “still ongoing” at this stage.
The failed attack comes almost a year after an ISIS terrorist attack, when a Tunisian Islamist plowed a large truck through a Berlin Christmas market. Twelve people were killed and many others injured.
Intelligence services say that an estimated 10,000 radical Islamists are currently operating in Germany and 1,600 may be capable of carrying out an attack. Last month, ISIS called for a spate of Christmas terror attacks on Western countries, releasing propaganda posters that warned: “Soon in your holidays”.
For the first time, most major European Christmas markets are this year protected by concrete barriers and teaming with armed police. The terror threat in Germany increased substantially after Angela Merkel invited one million mostly-male migrants from the Middle East into the country in 2015.