Police in Potsdam, Germany evacuate Christmas market, investigate suspicious object

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German police have said a package containing nails, wires, batteries, fireworks and powder found near a Christmas market in the eastern German city of Potsdam near Berlin did not contain an ignition device.

Karl-Heinz Schroeter, interior minister of the state of Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin, said the area would remain shut while police searched with sniffer dogs for any other similar packages.

Police are "currently deployed to central Potsdam because a suspicious package [was found there]", the local police department said in a Twitter post.

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Christmas markets opened across Germany on Monday at the start of the holiday season, fortified with security staff and concrete barriers to protect shoppers.

On Dec. 21 previous year, a truck driven by a Tunisian Islamist rammed into a Christmas market near Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in downtown Berlin, killing 12 people. It is situated on the River Havel, 15 miles southwest of Berlin's city center.

Despite the show of calm, tensions are running high since last week when six men were arrested over an alleged plot to attack a market in the western city of Essen. On December 19, 2016, a hijacked truck driven by a failed asylum seeker from Tunisia went off the road and into the market held near a historic church on the Kurfurstendamm shopping avenue. The suspect later died in a shootout with police in Italy.

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