- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 2, 2010

BERLIN (AP) — German police disarmed a potentially harmful package from Greece at German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office Tuesday, hours after similar small mail bombs exploded outside the Russian and Swiss embassies in Athens in attacks blamed on Greek far-left extremists.

Greek police destroyed at least three more suspected bombs in Athens, and two local men have been charged with mailing bombs.

Mrs. Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said the suspicious package intercepted in the mailroom of her office was personally addressed to the German chancellor and “would have been able to harm people.”

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the package, which arrived midday at the mailroom of Mrs. Merkel’s office, was sent from Greece two days ago and resembled a series of small mail bombs in Athens.

Mr. De Maiziere said that not only did the package have a Greek return address, but also authorities had been able to trace that it had been sent from Greece two days ago.

“It contained an explosive device,” Mr. de Maiziere told reporters.

“Based on everything that we know, it was built in the same way and visually resembled the package that exploded at the Swiss embassy in Athens,” he said.

No group claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attacks, which caused no injuries. No warning was given, and no link has been made with the recently discovered Yemen-based mail bomb plot, which used much more powerful devices.

Greece has a vocal anarchist political fringe that opposes most forms of state authority — particularly the police and party democracy — as well as capitalism and globalization.

In recent decades, small radical anarchist or nihilist groups have staged attacks ranging from nighttime car burnings to bomb and gunfire attacks on symbols of state power and wealth — including the U.S. Embassy in Athens.

Mrs. Merkel was in Belgium when the package arrived in the mailroom of her office. Mr. Seibert said it showed “marks that indicated the possibility of explosives” and police were immediately alerted.

The development raised new questions about the security of cargo and parcels. People in the transportation industry said Tuesday that there are few security checks on packages transported within the European Union by road or rail.

“Once they’re in Europe, the goods are free to move around,” said Robert Windsor, manager of trade services at the British International Freight Association.

UPS said it was aware of reports it had delivered the suspicious package but could not confirm them.

“We’re working closely with authorities to investigate,” UPS spokesman Norman Black said by e-mail. He said UPS transports packages in Europe by both ground and air.

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