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By Andy Eckardt

MAINZ, Germany — A suspect being hunted by German cops persuaded investigators he wasn't trying to build a bomb by admitting he was attempting to make something else: drugs.

Police in the western city of Cologne questioned the 44-year-old man Wednesday on suspicion he bought chemicals that could be used to make explosives.

A broadcast by NBC News’ German partner ZDF on Wednesday shows a picture of the man suspected of buying chemicals to make explosives.ZDF

After giving several reasons for his purchase, the man eventually conceded that he was going to use the chemicals to produce "narcotic substances," Cologne police said in a statement.

The suspect turned himself in Tuesday night after authorities launched a manhunt and published surveillance camera images following a tip-off from staff at a retailer in Pulheim.

Staff at the hardware store initially said the man was "Middle Eastern-looking" but police later said he was not of Arab origin.

Following their questioning and searches of the man's apartment, officials were satisfied he did not want to make a bomb and released him. However, police told NBC News that "preliminary investigations" had been launched against the man on suspicion he violated German drug laws.

"In times of a tense security situation we are well aware of our responsibility for the people and are grateful for all leads from the public," police president Juergen Mathies said in the statement. "Yesterday’s [incident] showed that it is important to keep calm and to trustingly coordinate with all who stand side-by-side with us on security issues."