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Anthrax Mailed to Pakistani Prime Minister

A package confirmed to carry anthrax was delivered to Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's government living quarters in January, Pakistani law enforcement officials said on Wednesday (see GSN, Jan. 26).

Investigators said they were looking into the means and motivation behind the delivery. Gilani's domicile did not verify receiving the shipment, which would seemingly mark the only known mailing of anthrax to a Pakistani governing entity, Agence France-Presse reported.

"The parcel containing anthrax powder was sent last month, about 20 days ago. After the laboratory test confirmed that the parcel contained anthrax we registered a case against unknown people," law enforcement official Hakim Khan said.

There was no identification of possible culprits, and questions remained regarding possible sources of the anthrax bacteria within Pakistan, according to AFP. The package was postmarked in Jamshoro, a jurisdiction in Pakistan's southern Sindh province.

"We have sent a police team to investigate it and to find the culprits there," said Khan, an official based in Islamabad's guarded secretariat district, the location of the prime minister's living quarters.

Jamshoro authorities said they only became aware of the apparent anthrax delivery through news updates.

"We have not yet received any instructions from the government to investigate this matter," Jamshoro law enforcement official Bashir Ahmed said in an interview.

"We have asked the local post office protectively to check their records to know about the sender," Ahmed said. "We can't say how long it will take to complete the investigation. We expect a quick result if the sender's identity is not fake" (Sajjad Tarakzai, Agence France-Presse/Google News, Feb. 1).

A representative for Gilani indicated the incident had occurred in October of last year and that the perpetrator was a Pakistani academic, the Associated Press reported.

The material did not cause anyone to become sick, according to spokesman Akram Shaheedi. It was not immediately known why the unidentified university professor might have mailed the anthrax or whether she has any connections to extremist organizations operating within Pakistan (Brummitt/Ahmed, Associated Press/ABC News, Feb. 1).


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