BERLIN — Federal German prosecutors are investigating a 12-year-old boy who allegedly attempted to set off a nail bomb at a Christmas market in the southern city of Ludwigshafen, officials said Friday.
The German-born son of Iraqi parents is alleged to have tried to set off the device at the Christmas market on Nov. 26, and again outside city hall on Dec. 5, Focus magazine reported citing security sources.
In the second failed attempt, a passer-by spotted the backpack containing the device and reported it to authorities. Inside they found a glass jar packed with material from firecrackers and with nails taped to it, Focus reported.
Police said it would have burned but would not have exploded.
A passant walks at the entrance of the Christmas market in Ludwigshafen, western Germany, on December 16, 2016. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
Stephan Meyer, parliamentary spokesman on security issues for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc, confirmed the details of the report.
Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, would not comment on details of the case but said it was a "startling case to everyone, and I think the proper response is to investigate it thoroughly.''
Federal prosecutors did not return calls seeking comment.
The boy, who has been taken into youth detention with his parents' consent, apparently had turned rapidly to Islamic extremism.
"This shows how quickly the radicalization of a young person, a child, can take place,'' Meyer said.