Suspect parcel for Italy PM catches fire

November 3, 2010 12:00 am

, ROME, Nov 3 – A suspect package addressed to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and linked to a series of parcel bombs posted in Greece caught fire at Italy\’s Bologna airport, ANSA news agency reported.

The parcel ignited when experts tried to open it but no one was hurt, the agency said.

It had been intercepted on a flight by the private TNT courier company that was headed for Paris but was rerouted to Bologna after fears a parcel bomb was on board.

A similar package containing explosives arrived at German Chancellor Angela Merkel\’s offices Tuesday in what authorities said was a thwarted attack.

Another intended for French President Nicolas Sarkozy was discovered in Athens on Monday, as a series of others intended for foreign embassies in the Greek capital were also intercepted on Monday and Tuesday.

The device at the airport in Italy\’s northern city of Bologna was found after the TNT plane was completely unloaded, the ANSA report said.

Experts had just begun to open the parcel when there was a spark and the parcel caught fire, it said. The remains were taken for analysis.

Greek police had alerted their Italian counterparts about the suspect package and the plane was brought in to land at Bologna airport and made to park far from the airport terminal, which was already closed.

A similar booby-trapped package ignited at the Swiss embassy on Tuesday as staff tried to open it, but no one was hurt.

A second exploded at the Russian embassy without causing injury, police said, adding the package was already being treated with suspicion by staff.

Two parcels containing explosives hidden inside hollowed-out books were meanwhile destroyed in controlled explosions at Athens airport late Tuesday.

Greek authorities have linked the attempted bombing campaign to a far-left group and on Monday arrested two men, aged 22 and 24.

The 22-year-old had been wanted by police as a suspected member of Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, a far-left group that appeared in 2008 and has carried out a wave of arson and minor bomb attacks on the offices and homes of politicians.

As the scale of the bombing plot emerged, Greek authorities put a stop on mail deliveries to foreign destinations late Tuesday.

"The transport of mail and parcels abroad will be halted for 48 hours to enable follow-up inspections," the police department said.


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