The authorities are investigating whether a 12-year-old boy made a bomb and planted it at a traditional Christmas market in his hometown in southwestern Germany.

Hubert Stroeber, a spokesman for the local prosecutor’s office, told Reuters that the boy, who is German but of Iraqi heritage, tried and failed to detonate a nail bomb at the Christmas market on Nov. 26 and then planted another self-made explosive device in a backpack near the town hall on Dec. 5. A passer-by drew the police’s attention to the abandoned backpack and specializes destroyed it in a controlled explosion.

Authorities in Germany are being tight-lipped about the case, but have confirmed the boy is being held in connection with the investigation. Details first emerged in Germany’s Focus magazine, which alleged that the boy twice attempted to detonate a crude home-made bomb in his hometown of Ludwigshafen, in western Germany.

Local prosecutor Hubert Ströber told AFP that to call the device a bomb would be an exaggeration. He said that although the powder was combustible, it was unclear whether it would have exploded. The child, who cannot face a German court because he is aged under 14, was detained and placed into a juvenile care facility, said Focus.City mayor Eva Lohse said he “is currently staying at a secure place and therefore presents no public threat”.

In a separate case, three teenage boys are currently on trial over a bombing at a Sikh place of worship in Essen which injured three people. The three suspects were all 16 at the time of the attacks.

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