Date: Sat, 31 Oct 1998 23:33:29 EST
Subject: Anthrax Letters


Here's a piece about alleged anthrax-laden letters mailed to targets by terrorists.


No Clinic Letters Yet Have Anthrax


.c The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Letters claiming to contain anthrax that were sent to seven abortion clinics did not contain the deadly bacteria in at least four of the cases, the FBI said Saturday.

Testing at a U.S. Army lab in Fort Detrick, Md., revealed that the letters received Friday by four clinics in Kentucky and Indiana did not contain any biological agents, said John E. Bell Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI's Indianapolis office.

The FBI, which did not name any suspects, said it was continuing testing to determine the exact nature of the powdery substance.

The clinics -- in Indianapolis, the southern Indiana town of New Albany and two in Louisville, Ky. -- received letters Friday saying: "You have just been exposed to anthrax," a strain of bacteria that can be used as a biological weapon.

Another Louisville clinic and one in Wichita, Kan., also received letters Saturday, and a similar threat was sent to a clinic in Knoxville, Tenn., on Friday. It was not clear if tests were complete on those letters by Saturday night.

At the Planned Parenthood clinic in Indianapolis, federal marshals stood watch throughout the day.

Friday's incident prompted police to decontaminate 31 people who were scrubbed down and treated with antibiotics at hospitals as a precaution. Two people from a Louisville clinic also were treated at the hospital Friday.

Michael Smith, who lives in an apartment near the Indianapolis clinic, said he's opposed to abortion, but now is scared about what anti-abortion extremists might do next.

"You're automatically wondering what chemicals went off. I mean, my window's open. ... I feel endangered," he said.

Authorities said the letter to the Wichita clinic was postmarked in Cincinnati, just like the ones sent to at least four other clinics. Pat Bashore of the FBI in Louisville said he did not know the origin of two of the Louisville letters.

In Wichita, an employee called the fire department, which contacted federal authorities. FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza said the envelope wasn't opened but "looking at it through backlighting, it doesn't appear to contain anything at all." The clinic was evacuated for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, a Newsweek poll found that 60 percent of Americans believe the anti-abortion movement has to share at least some of the blame for recent violence against abortion provides. Fears of violent attacks against abortion providers were heightened Oct. 23 when a sniper fatally shot a doctor who performs abortions near Buffalo.

Thirty-three percent of those responding said the anti-abortion movement is indirectly connected to the violence because of statements that encourage violence. Another 27 percent believed there is a more direct connection, the Newsweek poll said.

The survey also found that 51 percent of Americans sympathize with abortion- rights efforts and 39 percent back the anti-abortion effort.

The poll appears in the Nov. 9 issue of the magazine, which is on newsstands Monday. Its margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

AP-NY-10-31-98 2209EST


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