German police probe puzzling kidnap attempt

Associated Press
In this photo taken Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, a telephone booth stands in an apartment in Hamburg, Germany. Officers were still on the scene on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011, five days after an alleged victim _ a 26-year-old Israeli woman who was an acquaintance but not a close friend of the suspect, a German man aged 30 _ escaped the apartment. The suspect forced the woman to go to his mezzanine apartment at gunpoint last Friday evening, according to police. Police have discovered a telephone booth, a homemade hand grenade and dozens of fire extinguishers in the apartment in their investigation of a suspected kidnapping. (AP Photo/dapd, Niclas Weber)
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In this photo taken Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, a telephone booth stands in an apartment in Hamburg, Germany. …

BERLIN (AP) — A homemade grenade, a telephone booth, and 113 fire extinguishers were found in a Hamburg apartment during an investigation into a suspected kidnapping, say German police.

Officers remained on the scene Wednesday, five days after the alleged victim — a 26-year-old Israeli woman — escaped.

Police said a 30-year old German man forced the woman — an acquaintance, but not a close friend — to go to his mezzanine apartment at gunpoint last Friday evening. She escaped around three hours later by jumping out of the window, over which the suspect had stretched barbed wire.

Neighbors called police, and the man was arrested. Police said he was armed with a gun and a hand-grenade filled with a homemade explosive substance.

Over the following days, police found a telephone booth in the apartment, which was taken away Tuesday, along with 113 fire extinguishers, most of them in the cellar — nine with traces of the homemade explosive on their exterior.

"The fire extinguishers were full and we were concerned they also could be filled with this homemade substance," but that turned out not to be the case, police spokesman Jens Ratfeld said.

The suspect so far has given no information to investigators.

Media have speculated that the telephone booth was intended as a soundproof torture chamber in which the victim was to be held, but police say they can't confirm that.

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