Thursday, June 09, 2005

Australia scare closes embassies

Australia scare closes embassies
Several embassies in the Australian capital closed on Thursday, after they received suspicious packages.

The British High Commission, and the US, Japanese and South Korean embassies were shut down, but the UK mission has now reopened.

Part of the parliament was also closed for the second time in a week after a package of white powder was received.

The Indonesian embassy has twice received such packages, but tests showed that the material was harmless.

"ACT (Australian Capital Territory) policing has received reports of suspicious pacages at a number of foreign missions and parliament house... the packages have been secured," a police spokesman told Reuters.

The BBC understands that the powder sent to the British High Commission was harmless.

Last week, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer received a similar package addressed to him at parliament.

Tests revealed the powder to be non-toxic.

Australian authorities have linked the packages sent to the Indonesian embassy with public anger at the jailing of a 27-year-old Australian woman for smuggling drugs into Bali.

The case of Schapelle Corby, who was given a 20-year sentence, generated huge public sympathy in Australia, with many people convinced of her innocence.

Story from BBC NEWS: