Nail-packed device found near German Christmas market

A Christmas market was evacuated in the German city of Potsdam on Friday after a nail-packed device was found nearby.

According to Brandenburg’s interior minister Karl-Heinz Schröter, the package left behind at the pharmacy contained nails and a powder, which was being analysed to determine whether it was an explosive.

Germany is on high alert for potential terrorist attacks nearly a year after a Tunisian Islamist hijacked a truck, killed its driver, and rammed the vehicle into a Christmas market in nearby Berlin, killing 11 more people there.

“There was a successful attempt to spread fear, because at this point it isn’t possible for Christmas festivities to go ahead as normal’, said Schröter, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

The device was described by the Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten newspaper as a package measuring 40cm by 50cm that had been delivered to a pharmacy near the market.

The newspaper said police were alerted at about 2.30pm local time (1.30pm GMT) after an employee opened the package at the pharmacy and saw suspicious wires and electronics inside.

Christmas markets opened across Germany on Monday at the start of the holiday season, fortified with security staff and concrete barriers to protect shoppers. The country has about 2,600 such markets, filled with sparkling Christmas trees and wooden stalls serving candied nuts, sausages, mulled wine and handicrafts.

Potsdam’s mayor Jann Jacobs said it was likely that the Christmas market would reopen tomorrow.

The German interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, this week said Germany had increased information-sharing between state and federal officials and taken other steps to increase security after a series of missteps on the Berlin case.

An interior ministry spokesman this week said the risk of an attack in Europe and Germany was “continuously high”.