Embassies closed in Canberra powder scare

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The Independent Online

Four foreign embassies in Canberra, Australia's capital, were closed temporarily today after they received envelopes containing a suspicious white powder, officials said.

Four foreign embassies in Canberra, Australia's capital, were closed temporarily today after they received envelopes containing a suspicious white powder, officials said.

Police said they were investigating the envelopes, which were sent to the US, British, Japanese and South Korean embassies in Canberra. A package was also sent to Australia's Parliament House.

The packages at all locations had been secured by teams trained in dealing with hazardous material and were being investigated by emergency response crews, a spokesman for the Australian Capital Territory police in Canberra said, also on condition of anonymity.

All four embassies were closed, although Parliament House remained open.

Earlier this week, a suspicious package containing white powder that was later found to be harmless sparked a security scare at the Indonesian Embassy, less than a week after a similar incident caused embassy staff to be quarantined and decontaminated.

That incident also proved to be a hoax, and was linked to supporters of an Australian woman convicted in Indonesia of drug smuggling in a case that sparked anger among many Australians.

The police spokesman refused officially to confirm that the latest embassy closures were a hoax, but hinted strongly that police believed the packages were harmless.

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