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Suspicious Suitcase in Namibia Delays Air Berlin Flight


An aircraft of Air Berlin takes off at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany, 20 Apr 2010

An aircraft of Air Berlin takes off at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany, 20 Apr 2010

Germany says an Air Berlin flight from Namibia was delayed because police found a suitcase containing a possible explosive device among luggage about to be loaded onto the Munich-bound passenger plane.

German authorities say a scan of the bag at the international airport in Windhoek showed batteries attached by wires to a detonator and a clock. Hours after Wednesday's discovery, Namibian investigators had not said whether the bag could have exploded.

After extensive security checks, the plane departed Windhoek and arrived in Munich early Thursday.

Germany was already on heightened alert. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere raised the country's terror threat level on Wednesday. He linked the move to a tip from an unnamed foreign intelligence service about a possible attack planned in Germany for the end of November.

De Maiziere said security was increasing at airports and train stations. He did not divulge details, but sought to reassure the German public that there was "no cause for hysteria."

Germany has been largely spared terrorist attacks by Islamist militants who have struck elsewhere in Europe in the past decade. However, analysts see the country as a potential target, in large part because of Germany's 4,600-member military presence in Afghanistan.

Britain and France raised their terror alert levels in September, and by early October, the United States, Japan and Sweden were warning their citizens of possible attacks in Europe.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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