BERLIN (Reuters) - German police Tuesday intercepted a package containing explosives sent from Greece to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office in Berlin after a series of parcel bomb attacks in Athens by suspected Greek guerrillas.
Addressed to Merkel personally, the suspect parcel was found in the mailroom of her chancellery while she was out of the country in Belgium, the government said.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the package contained explosives, was sent from Greece two days ago and appeared to be linked to the other parcel bombs.
“From all that we know it was built the same way and looked the same as...the one in the Swiss embassy in Athens and presumably the other parcels too,” he told a news conference.
Security experts rendered the package harmless and no one was hurt, though the government said it appeared to have been “capable of harming people.” German media said it contained gunpowder and listed the “Greece Economy Ministry” as its return address.
“We don’t yet have final results on how dangerous the explosive was and what it was made of,” De Maiziere said.
“However, there’s quite a lot to suggest that if it’s the same as the parcel bombs from Athens it could have caused a not inconsiderable amount of damage,” he added.
The security scare came the same day that bombs exploded at two foreign embassies in Greece, with suspect packages found at other diplomatic missions in Athens. Greek police linked the attacks there to leftist guerrillas.
Analysts said the parcel bomb may have been linked to anger in Greece about an austerity plan imposed on the country in exchange for the bailout it received this year from European partners. Germany was the biggest contributor to the rescue package but fought hard for deep budgetary cuts in Athens.
Monday, a bomb went off in an Athens courier office, wounding an employee, and Greek police arrested two men with two bombs, one addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Karl-Heinz Nassmacher, a political scientist from the University of Oldenburg, said the coordinated nature of the bomb deliveries had taken international terrorism to a new dimension.
“They’ve made good use of modern technology and managed to create massive headlines fairly cheaply,” he said. “Merkel is likely to win some sympathy for this, but it will fade.”
“We’re so inured to it now that everyone knows that people in positions of high authority can be targeted at any time.”
German daily Der Tagesspiegel said the package was delivered by United Parcel Service, which was last week used to relay parcel bombs from Yemen bound for the U.S.
De Maiziere was asked whether there was a link to Yemen.
“There’s nothing at the moment to suggest there is a link to the perpetrators, although it also arrived in Germany on a freight flight,” he said.
Additional reporting by Sabine Ehrhardt, Oliver Ellrodt, Stephen Brown, Annika Breidthardt, Andreas Rinke, Erik Kirschbaum and Fabrizio Bensch; Editing by Charles Dick