"Suspicious packages" found at consulates in Australia

Erika Holt
January 10, 2019

Police in Australia said on Wednesday they are investigating several suspicious packages sent to embassies and consulates, which media reports and other officials said included the USA and British missions, in the cities of Melbourne and Canberra.

Emergency workers had been seen at consulates belonging to the US, India, Pakistan, Greece, South Korea, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and France according to Australian broadcaster ABC News.

"At this time we believe the matter is targeted and not impacting the general community", the statement said.

Staff were initially evacuated from some of the affected buildings, which were placed on temporary lock down, but were allowed to return later on Wednesday afternoon.

The incident comes just days after emergency services were called to the Argentinian consulate in Sydney's CBD after reports that a suspicious substance was found in a parcel.

A firefighter is seen carrying a hazardous material bag into the South Korean consulate in Melbourne.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a tweet that emergency services responded to "suspicious packages" at embassies and consulates in Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Victoria.

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"The circumstances surrounding these incidents are being investigated".

"The Australian Federal Police and Melbourne Fire Department are investigating".

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said Australian Federal Police are "dealing" with a report of a suspicious package at the British Consulate General in Melbourne.

Some of the sites - which also included locations near the Spanish, Swiss, Egyptian and Pakistani consulates - were evacuated as a precaution but have since been declared safe. The government Vic Emergency website noted at least 10 "hazardous material" incidents in the city.

The official said she was told by the authorities to wash her hands.

However the United States embassy in Canberra was not targeted with a package, a spokesperson said.

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