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U.S. Embassy In Turkmenistan Gets White Powder Mail

ASHGABAT (Reuters) -- The U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan was on high alert on December 25 after receiving a package containing suspicious white powder.

U.S. embassies in up to 20 countries have received envelopes containing suspicious white powder since December 8. In most missions the packages were found to be harmless.

The U.S. embassy in Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic bordering Afghanistan and Iran, said it closed its chancery on December 23 after receiving a suspect package.

"Turkmen authorities were notified and they are investigating the powder for biological and chemical toxins," its press-service said in a statement, adding it hoped to reopen soon. "There are no reported casualties or injuries."

In the latest reported case, the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus received a similar package on December 22 and police were called in. U.S. authorities have been on alert for such letters since 2001, when envelopes laced with the anthrax toxin were sent to media outlets and to U.S. politicians, killing five people.