Suspicious package was `dummy bomb`: German minister

Last Updated: Friday, November 19, 2010 - 21:35

Berlin: A suspicious package intercepted
at the Windhoek airport in Namibia shortly before being loaded
on a flight bound for Germany was a "dummy bomb" to test the
security measures at the airport, German Interior Minister
Thomas de Maiziere said on Friday.

A laptop bag containing batteries attached by wire to
a detonator and a ticking clock wrapped in plastic sheets was
a "real test" suitcase manufactured by an American company,
de Maiziere told a news conference in Hamburg.

The California-based company specialises in
manufacturing alarm systems, detection devices and other
security equipment for a wide range of customers, including
intelligence agencies around the world.

The minister said he has no information on who could
have delivered the package.

A team of experts sent by Germany`s Federal Crime
Office to examine the suspicious package are in the Namibian
capital and they are expected to provide more information
about who was behind it, he said.

Media reports said American intelligence agencies,
including the FBI, have been using similar devices since the
terrorist attacks in New York in 2001 to test baggage and
cargo security checks at various airports.

But, the US authorities have denied that they carried
out the test and suggested that some African governments or
Germany`s intelligence service may be behind, the reports
said.

De Maiziere could not say why it took so much time for
the security authorities in Namibia to inform their German
counterparts that the package, which was detected on Wednesday
during a screening of luggage and cargo at the Windhoek
international airport, was a harmless test device.

The minister ruled out the possibility that German
intelligence services may have placed it.

But it will be part of the investigation, he said.
The suspect package was found among the luggage of
passengers of a LTU/Air Berlin flight bound for Munich.

Security officials became suspicious because it
carried neither a baggage tag nor the addresses of its origin
or destination.

During the screening, they found batteries attached by
wire to a detonator and a ticking clock.

The plane with 296 persons on board landed safely in
Frankfurt on Thursday after a seven-hour delay caused by
renewed security checks of passengers and their luggage in
Windhoek.

PTI



First Published: Friday, November 19, 2010 - 21:35

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