Italy police: Suspected explosive device had no detonator

Image: Carabinieri carry equipments outside the underground train station where an explosive device was found, in Rome
Carabinieri carry equipment outside the underground train station where an explosive device was found in Rome on Tuesday.ALESSANDRO BIANCHI / Reuters
/ Source: news services

A suspicious package full of wires and powder was found Tuesday in a subway car in Rome, prompting a terror scare during the Christmas season. But the city's mayor said the device was a "fake" that could not have exploded.

The device, left in a grocery bag, was found under a seat in a train at the Rebibbia station, on the outskirts of Italian capital. The train was at the end of the line and empty when the package was found, said Atac, which runs the Rome subway.

Bomb-disposal experts checked the powder and concluded "the device could not have exploded," Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency.

He told reporters the device was "a fake," even if it looked threatening.

It wasn't clear what type of powder was involved. Bomb disposal experts were analyzing it, Atac said.

Various Italian agencies joined the investigation, but there was no indication they had any concrete clues of who left the device.

Atac said in a statement the train was in an area beyond the platform that is used for maneuvering when the device was found.

Spokeswoman Diana Formaggio said the package contained powder and wires. She said the station was never closed and the service was not interrupted.

Holiday season attacks
There have been growing concerns in Europe about holiday season attacks following a suicide bombing in Sweden and security services' fears of an assault on a European city modeled on the deadly shooting spree in Mumbai, India.

Rome has also been the site of violent anti-government protests in recent weeks during which demonstrators have set off flares, firecrackers and other devices; another such protest is planned for Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Europe, both British and German officials have insisted there have been no new specific threats to their countries over the festive period.

Britain's terror alert has remained unchanged at "severe" while Germany upped its terror alert on Nov. 17, when Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned of an increased threat from Islamic extremists.