- Associated Press - Friday, November 19, 2010

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — A suspicious package found in a Namibian airport near bags of a flight bound for Munich, which prompted fears Germany was being targeted in a terrorist attack, was a device designed to test security and didn’t contain explosives, a senior official said Friday.

Wednesday’s find at the Windhoek airport came the same day that Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere had raised Germany’s internal terrorist alert level, and amid the heightened security situation Germany immediately sent federal agents from South Africa to help local officials in their investigation.

Mr. de Maiziere told reporters Friday, however, that those agents had determined that the bag was a “so-called ‘real test’ case” made by an American manufacturer to test security measures. He said the agents were still part of an ongoing investigation into who may have put the case in the luggage hall.

“Most important is that there were no explosives in the bag and there was never any danger to the passengers at any time,” Mr. de Maiziere said.

When asked if it could have been a German security test, Mr. de Maiziere said that was “unlikely but part of the investigation.”

Namibian police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga said he had no immediate comment, but that his office would issue a statement later in the afternoon. Repeated calls to the Windhoek airport would not go through.

Concern about the possibility of international flights being targeted by terrorists rose last month when two mail bombs were discovered while being sent on cargo planes from Yemen to the U.S. One of them went through a German airport before being found in Britain.

The Windhoek incident came as Germany already was on edge after Mr. de Maiziere raised the country’s terrorist threat level, saying intelligence services had received a tip from an unspecified country about a suspected attack planned for the end of November.

In comments published Friday in Germany’s Bild newspaper, Germany’s federal police president said the terrorist threat facing the nation was “more serious than ever before.”

While urging against “panic or hysteria,” Matthias Seeger said that “on a scale of one — no danger — to 10 — acute danger of an attack — we are currently at 9. Therefore we need to be particularly alert.”

Jenny Gross in Johannesburg contributed to this report.

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