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Suspicious packages sent to multiple embassies and consulates in Australia

Emergency services in Australia are responding to multiple reports of suspicious packages delivered to at le...

Posted: Jan 9, 2019 11:58 AM
Updated: Jan 9, 2019 11:58 AM

Emergency services in Australia are responding to multiple reports of suspicious packages delivered to at least a dozen consulates and seven foreign embassies in Melbourne and Canberra.

The British, American, Croatian, New Zealand and Swiss consulates in Melbourne all confirmed to CNN that they had received suspicious items in the mail.

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The Swiss consulate in the southern city, Australia's second largest, told the network that a suspicious package was delivered at around 1.30 p.m. local time Wednesday (9.30 p.m. Tuesday ET), and that the police and fire services are currently investigating.

A British High Commission spokesperson also confirmed that a suspicious package was sent to their Melbourne consulate and they were liaising closely with Australian Federal Police and the local authorities regarding the situation.

Joseph Petrić, Consulate General of the Republic of Croatia in Melbourne, told CNN that a package arrived at the consulate in the regular mail, and contained three little packets. Staff called the firemen and federal police, and the authorities came, packaged it and took it away. He said the office was not evacuated.

A spokesman for the US consulate in Melbourne told CNN that after receiving a suspicious package staff "followed standard procedures and alerted local authorities. The Melbourne fire brigade and Australian Federal Police are currently investigating. We have full faith and confidence in them."

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed that police and emergency services had responded to suspicious packages sent to embassies and consulates in both Canberra and Melbourne but did not provide details as to the specific locations or contents of the packages.

"The packages are being examined by attending emergency services. The circumstances are being investigated," said the AFP statement.

A law enforcement official in Australia with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that "the packages are not believed to pose an actual threat, however, the investigation into the sender(s) remains ongoing."

A subsequent statement from Victoria Police, which oversees the state capital Melbourne, said that they "believe the matter is targeted and not impacting the general community."

Melbourne is home to numerous diplomatic missions. The city's Indian consulate, as well as the German, Pakistani, Korean, Italian and Greek consulates are also believed to have been affected, according to CNN affiliate Nine News.

Images on social media reportedly showed emergency services in protective clothing entering various consulates in Melbourne.

Melbourne emergency services have responded to a number of call-outs for "hazardous material" in the last hour according to the state's emergency response website, which shows a total of 17 hazardous material incidents currently in progress.

A number of the incidents listed are categorized as being "under control," while others are listed as emergency services "responding."

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