January 20, 1997 in Nation/World

Packages Were Addressed To Cia Suspicious Mailings That Disrupted Downtown Pullman Held No Bombs

Associated Press
 
Tags:hoax

The suspicious packages that disrupted life in downtown Pullman were addressed to the Central Intelligence Agency, a source told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The seven packages found in downtown Pullman on Saturday prompted police to close the main street through town for much of the day. None of the packages contained an explosive device.

Similar packages addressed to the CIA turned up at a post office distribution center in Spokane on Friday, the source, who requested anonymity, said.

“They had contents in them, but we will not divulge what they were,” the person said. “There were no explosives in them.”

The packages did not include a return address.

“We should be so lucky,” the source said.

The U.S. Postal Inspectors service will investigate the packages, but the source said the Pullman and Spokane cases appeared to be a prank.

The Inland Northwest has a recent history of bombings by white separatist groups, including three bombings in the Spokane Valley last summer.

Also, recent incidents of letter bombs from the Mideast have placed postal workers on alert, the source said.

Fourteen letter bombs have been mailed this month to the offices of Al-Hayat, a leading Arabic newspaper, in Washington, London, Saudi Arabia, and the United Nations. One blew up Monday, injuring two people in the paper’s London headquarters.

Most of the letters appeared to carry postmarks from Alexandria, Egypt. Egyptian authorities have suggested the stamps may have been forged.

After three packages were discovered in a mailbox shortly after 1 p.m. on Saturday, Pullman police decided to shut down the area around Grand Avenue and Stadium Way.

Four additional packages were found at the Pullman Post Office, a mile away on Grand Avenue.

A bomb squad from Spokane, armed with a robot, determined the packages were not explosive. The robot, nicknamed Elvis, has an arm that can move suspicious packages.

The traffic situation returned to normal about 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

The street closure caused huge traffic jams as more than 8,000 people were leaving the Washington-Washington State basketball game on the nearby WSU campus.

Residents were also evacuated from the nearby Terrace Park Estates trailer court.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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