Baldock students stay away from German Christmas markets amid Potsdam bomb scare

PUBLISHED: 11:56 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:10 04 December 2017

German police said yesterday that the Potsdam bomb was not terror-related but part of an extortion bid targeting DHL. Picture: Markus Winkler

German police said yesterday that the Potsdam bomb was not terror-related but part of an extortion bid targeting DHL. Picture: Markus Winkler

Archant

Baldock students on a trip to Germany last week had planned Christmas market visits called off in the wake of Friday’s Potsdam bomb scare.

Knights Templar head Tim Litchfield called off the touring group's Christmas market visits. Picture: Harry Hubbard Knights Templar head Tim Litchfield called off the touring group's Christmas market visits. Picture: Harry Hubbard

A device filled with nails, wires and batteries was sent to a pharmacy in Potsdam, near Berlin, with one of the city’s Christmas markets evacuated afterwards. Police said the device was full of explosives but had no detonator.

The touring group of about 70 pupils from Baldock’s Knights Templar School had been set to visit Christmas markets in Cologne that evening and Aachen the next day, but head Tim Litchfield confirmed on Friday that they would stay away.

Cologne and Aachen are in western Germany, far from Potsdam and Berlin in the east.

In a letter to parents, head Tim Litchfield said he had spoken to teacher and trip leader Joseph Sherry before calling off the visits because of the potential for attacks on Christmas markets there.

“I understand that this may be disappointing for the students but the safety of everyone on the trip is my highest priority,” said Mr Litchfield.

“Mr Sherry is accompanied by a very experienced team of staff who have made alternative arrangements.”

Respondents on social media praised the head for making what one, Katrina Marshall, called “the right decision”.

Claire Shafe said: “Thank you Mr Litchfield, Mr Sherry and the team. Whilst it is such a shame, the safety of all concerned comes first. Thank you for updating us.”

Sara Appleton added: “Thank you for keeping us informed. I have every confidence in the team and am glad they are staying and continuing, albeit with changes.”

The touring students returned home as planned on Saturday evening. During the trip they visited sites including Cologne Cathedral and Phantasialand, a theme park near Cologne.

German police yesterday said the Potsdam bomb was not terror-related, but part of an attempt to blackmail shipping firm DHL.

Germany is on a heightened terror alert a year after an Islamist hijacked a truck, killed its driver and rammed the vehicle into a Berlin Christmas market, killing 11 more people.

There has been an increased police presence in city centres this year, with car barriers put up to fortify some of the country’s 2,600 Christmas markets since they opened on Monday last week.

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