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Aviation

Authorities review airport security after failed bomb plot

Germany is taking stock of its security policies for air freight after a package bomb bound for the United States passed through Germany before being discovered in England.

A plane at Cologne/Bonn airport

The bomb passed through Cologne's airport

There have been growing calls to tighten security regulations for air freight traffic passing through Germany. The appeals follow the discovery over the weekend that a package containing explosives had passed through Cologne-Bonn airport undetected before being found in England.

A DHL freight center

Freight companies like DHL may have to do more checks

"We have to check if additional controls on freight shipping channels are necessary," said Ralph Beisel, head of the Working Committee of German Airports in an interview with the Rheinische Post newspaper.

He added that checks on freight for delivery companies fell under the jurisdiction of the Federal Office of Civil Aeronautics, and that the airports themselves had little to do with this.

Security loophole

Jan Muecke, the parliamentary state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transportation, said that there could never be a complete guarantee of security.

"But we're working and applying a lot of pressure to optimize security," he told the Leipziger Volkszeitung.

Muecke added that around 60 percent of air freight actually moves aboard passenger airliners, which would indicate a need for increased screening of civilian flights.

In response to the discovery of the explosives, Germany has stopped all freight and passenger flights from Yemen from entering German airspace.

On Sunday, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said until now, security controls on freight had been relatively lax compared to how people are screened in airports. He said that terrorists had now discovered this loophole. De Maiziere also said that an investigation would be launched into whether there were gaps in air freight security that may have led to the bomb getting through.

Suspect identified

Meanwhile, US authorities announced they had a lead related to the package bombs, which contained the explosive PETN. The suspect, an alleged al Qaeda bomb maker from Saudi Arabia, has been known to work with PETN before. He is believed to be linked to a failed attack on a US-bound passenger plane last Christmas.

Wolfgang Bosbach

Bosbach said more terrorists are hiding out in Yemen

PETN is considered highly explosive and can be detonated using extreme heat or a detonator.

The suspect is thought to be hiding in Yemen and is wanted for a series of high-profile attacks linked to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Wolfgang Bosbach, chairman of the Bundestag's standing committee on interior affairs, said Yemen is increasingly in focus when it comes to questions of security.

"Yemen has been developing into a fall-back location for terrorists, like the area on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan," Bosbach told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

Author: Matt Zuvela (dapd, dpa)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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