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Sun Jan 25 14:17:11 SAST 2015

'Poisoned' letter mailed to Obama

Reuters | 18 April, 2013 00:56
US President Barack Obama
Image by: JASON REED / Reuters

A letter addressed to US President Barack Obama was laced with a substance that preliminarily tests identify as the deadly poison ricin, authorities said yesterday.

News that the letter to Obama was being examined broke as a flurry of other reports of suspicious letters and a package caused the evacuation of parts of two Senate buildings and set nerves in Washington on edge.

The letter contained "a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin," the FBI said.

But it added: "There is no indication of a connection to the attack in Boston," where three people, including an eight-year-old boy, were killed in bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

The US Secret Service, which protects presidents and their families, said the letter to Obama was received at a mail screening facility on Tuesday. The facility was not near the White House, service spokesman Edwin Donovan said.

"The Secret Service is working closely with the US Capitol police and the FBI in this investigation," Donovan said.

Parts of the Russell and Hart Senate office buildings were cleared while officials investigated suspicious letters and a package, a Capitol police spokesman said.

Capitol police were also reported to be investigating a suspicious package delivered to their offices.

Senator Carl Levin said one of his Michigan regional offices had received a suspicious-looking letter but it was not opened.

On Tuesday, authorities intercepted a letter sent to Mississippi senator Roger Wicker that preliminary tests showed contained ricin.

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