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Tuesday , November 20 2018

German-Iraqi boy, 12, ‘tried to bomb Christmas market’

Visitors are pictured at the Christmas market in Heidelberg, southern Germany on Dec 15. (AFP)

BERLIN, Dec 16, (Agencies): German prosecutors said Friday they were investigating a case in which a 12-year-old boy allegedly tried to detonate a home-made nail bomb at a Christmas market. News weekly Focus first reported the case, saying a German-Iraqi child had plotted the attack, possibly after being radicalised by Islamic State group jihadists.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said “a report like this is frightening” but declined further comment, saying the matter was in the hands of prosecutors. The home-made device — a glass jar filled with a combustible powder and nails — was discovered on Dec 5 in the western city of Ludwigshafen and destroyed by a police bomb squad. Stefan Biehl of the federal prosecution service, which handles terrorism cases, told AFP that “I can confirm that we have started an investigation based on the discovery of a nail bomb in Ludwigshafen”.

Focus magazine, citing unnamed judicial and security sources, said the boy was thought to have been “strongly religiously radicalised” and possibly received instructions from an unknown IS member. The report said the boy first tried to detonate the device at the city’s Christmas market on Nov 26. Then, on Dec 5, he allegedly hid the explosive with a detonator in a backpack in bushes near the city’s town hall, where a passer-by spotted it and informed police. The boy, who is too young to face a German court, was detained and placed into a juvenile care facility, said Focus weekly.

Local prosecutor Hubert Stroeber told AFP that to call the device a bomb would be an exaggeration. He said that although the powder was combustible, it was unclear whether it would have exploded. A spokesman at the Federal Public Prosecutor Office in Karlsruhe confirmed that officials were investigating the case but declined to comment on any possible Islamic State link.

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