German Christmas Market Bomb Could Be Extortion Plot, Police Say

By William Wilkes Features Dow Jones Newswires

German police said a bomb found in Potsdam on Friday was aimed at extorting millions of euros from Deutsche Post AG's DHL delivery service and said the perpetrator could send further potentially deadly devices.

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German police dismantled the suspected bomb in the center of Potsdam on Friday. Police ordered the evacuation of a Christmas market in the city center after the device, described as cylindrical with batteries, nails and cables, was delivered to a pharmacy near the market. A bomb disposal squad destroyed the device with a high-powered water jet.

Authorities in Potsdam on Sunday said they found a piece of paper with a quick-response code, a barcode-like symbol which stores data that can be read by a smartphone camera, near where the bomb was found. The code revealed an extortion demand "in the millions" addressed to DHL, authorities said.

A spokesman for DHL declined to comment on the matter.

The device was posted at a package station in Potsdam, a city of 165,000 people about 45 minutes drive from Berlin, early on Thursday morning, according to police. A spokesman for DHL wasn't immediately available for comment.

Further devices could be sent to other small business, the spokes an said, although police couldn't rule out they would be sent to individuals. Police in Potsdam said members of the public should remain alert and not open unexpected packages from senders they don't know.

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"The perpetrator takes damage to human life and health as a given cost," Brandenburg police chief Hans-Jürgen Mörke said on Sunday.

Germany is on high alert for Christmas season after a truck rampage killed 12 people at a market in Berlin last year.

Write to William Wilkes at william.wilkes@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 03, 2017 11:15 ET (16:15 GMT)