At least four letter bombs were sent to the U.N. bureau of an Arabic-language newspaper, forcing a partial evacuation of U.N. headquarters Monday only hours after a letter bomb exploded at the newspaper’s London office.
Police said the letter bombs, all addressed to the Al-Hayat newspaper, were found and defused.
Early today, police stood guard outside the U.N. headquarters, located along the East River in Manhattan, while U.N. security officials inspected an estimated 80,000 undelivered parcels to determine if there were other bombs.
The bomb at the Al-Hayat’s London offices injured two people, one seriously, in an intensifying and mysterious mail-bomb campaign against the Saudi-owned newspaper.
At least a dozen letter bombs have been mailed to the newspaper’s bureaus in Washington, New York, London and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia this month. The London bomb is the only one to have exploded.
Two bombs found at the United Nations early Monday had been fitted into greeting card-sized envelopes, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
Late Monday, police were summoned to the United Nations for a third time after a suspicious parcel was discovered. Police officer Martin Foley said that parcel was examined and found not to be a bomb.
But two other suspicious parcels were determined to be letter bombs and were defused by the New York City bomb squad.
The first letter bomb apparently arrived Friday at the United Nations through the U.S. Postal Service, remained over the weekend in the central mail room and was discovered about 11 a.m. by guards screening parcels at a distribution center.
Guards then began inspecting all the mail, discovering the second letter bomb late Monday afternoon in the basement mail room.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the bombings as a “cowardly act … an assault on the United Nations itself.”
In London, two guards were wounded, one seriously, when a bomb exploded in the Al-Hayat mail room. Scotland Yard said police found three other bombs there, and blew them up without injury.
Several days before, five letter bombs were sent to the Washington offices of the same newspaper in the National Press Building. None of those bombs exploded. They were reportedly postmarked in Alexandria, Egypt.