Austria seeks motive after embassy bomb scare

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VIENNA, Oct 2 (Reuters) Austrian police are investigating the motive of the Bosnian who tried to enter the US embassy in Vienna carrying an explosives-filled rucksack, an official said today.

Public security director Erik Buxbaum told journalists at a news conference the man gave police the impression of being ''confused'' and had been in psychiatric care in the past.

''We can't say anything at the moment about a possible motive for his action,'' Buxbaum said. ''To talk about an Islamist background would be premature. We can neither confirm that nor rule it out.'' The man, identified by Austrian newspapers as Arsim C., ran away from the embassy yesterday after his rucksack triggered metal detectors at the entrance. He dropped the bag in the next street and was arrested soon after.

Bomb squad specialists found two hand grenades and other explosive material in the rucksack, as well as nails and screws -- often used by suicide bombers in the Middle East to kill or wound as many people as possible.

Buxbaum said police found no fuse for the explosives and was investigating whether they could have blown up at all.

A search of the man's home had produced about half a kilogram (1.1 lb) of plastic explosives of a variety often used in the former Yugoslavia, Buxbaum said.

The man's backpack contained a religious book typically read by Bosnian Muslims during the Ramadan fasting month.

The Bosnian, who is living in Tulln near Vienna, told police that a countryman living in the same town had given him the backpack and told him to take it to the US embassy.

The second man, identified as Mehmad D, was arrested on Monday night. He denied any links to the rucksack incident, Buxbaum said.

No explosives, weapons or other suspect material were found in his home.

It was the second such scare in Austria within weeks.

Last month, police arrested three people on suspicion of links to al Qaeda and posting an Islamist video on the Internet in which they threatened Germany and Austria. One of three was later released without charge.

Buxbaum said there was no evidence the three were linked to the Bosnian.

Reuters ARB GC1949

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