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Obama, US Senator targeted by ricin letter attacks

AFP

The interception of two poisonous letters addressed to US President Barack Obama and a US senator has sparked a security alert in Washington. Two Senate office buildings were also evacuated Wednesday amid reports of suspicious letters and a package.

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The FBI said on Wednesday that a suspicious letter mailed to US President Barack Obama tested positive for ricin, a deadly poison with no known antidote.

The letter was discovered by the US Secret Service at the remote facility which is used to screen White House mail on Tuesday, the same day authorities said a letter was sent to Senator Roger Wicker laced with ricin.

The FBI said both letters were related and postmarked out of Memphis,Tennessee, dated April 8. In an intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press, the FBI wrote that the letters both say: ``To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance.''

Both letters were signed ``I am KC and I approve this message.''

Evacuation of Senate office buildings

The ricin letter attacks sparked a security alert in Washington DC, where US congressional police cleared parts of two Senate office buildings on Wednesday over concerns over more suspicious letters and a package.

Officials looked into suspicious envelopes in the Russell building and questioned an individual in that matter, the Capitol police spokesman said. The Hart Senate building was quickly reopened after bomb squads said tests on a suspicious package were negative.

Washington under pressure

The discovery of the letters rattled nerves following the bomb attacks at the Boston Marathon on Monday, which killed three people and injured more than 180 others. A FBI statement said on Wednesday that there were "no indication of a connection to the attack in Boston".

The episode also recalled the mysterious series of letters laced with anthrax that were sent to lawmakers and some journalists following the September 11 attacks in 2001, killing five people and leaving 17 others sick.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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