German Police Find Device, Evacuate Christmas Market

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German police ordered the evacuation of a Christmas market on Dec. 1 after discovering a device that appeared to be a bomb.

Officers said the device was filled with nails and contained batteries and wires, according to BBC News.

The police subsequently noted an investigation is ongoing to determine whether the device contained explosives.

"We just don't know at this point if this was a device that could have actually exploded, or a fake, or a test," Brandenburg state Interior Minister Karl-Heinz Schröter said.

He explained that although X-rays confirmed the presence of nails, the powder in the package could be fake and designed to look like a bomb.

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Brandenburg state police initially suggested it appeared to be an "improvised explosive device," Deutsche Welle reports.

"There was a successful attempt to spread fear, because at this point it isn't possible for Christmas festivities to go ahead as normal," added Schröter, according to The Guardian.

A pharmacist sounded the alarm at around 2:30 p.m. local time after the package was delivered to the store in the city of Potsdam.

Authorities then evacuated the nearby Christmas market. A robot with water jets was used to make sure the package was safe.

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The state of Brandenburg, where Potsdam is located, surrounds the German capital of Berlin.

In 2016, Tunisian asylum seeker Anis Amri launched an attack on a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people, according to BBC News. As a result, security at the many markets across Germany in 2017 is high.

Amri seized a truck from its driver, killing him in the process. He then drove the vehicle into shoppers, killing 11 more. He escaped the scene of the attack and was shot dead four days later by Italian police.

The new security features at markets in 2017 include car barriers and a heightened police presence.

German federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere stated in an interview prior to the Dec. 1 incident that people should be "alert but not afraid" when visiting Christmas markets. He added that the threat of a terror attack is "simply high, anytime and anywhere," and stressed that Christmas markets are part of German "lives and culture," Deutsche Welle reports.

Police in Potsdam said that by 10 p.m. Dec. 1, they had "completed" a search of the area and nothing more had been found.

Jann Jacobs, the city's mayor, stated it is likely the market will reopen on Dec. 2.

Sources: BBC News, Deutsche Welle, The Guardian / Featured Image: BuzzWoof/Wikimedia Commons / embedded Images: Sebastian Rittau/Wikimedia Commons, EuroBill/Wikimedia Commons

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