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WHITE POWDER IN LETTER PROBED AT NEWS

Authorities are testing a suspicious letter containing a white power that a mailroom worker opened at The Buffalo News today.

At the same time, authorities sealed off The News Bureau at the National Press Club Building in Washington, D.C. after a suspicious looking envelope with block letters was slipped under the door of The News' office. That letter was not opened.

The letter in Buffalo was postmarked from Glasgow, Scotland, as were two similar envelopes received earlier this week by the New York Times and the Albany Times Union. Both other letters tested negative for anthrax.

Robert Casell, executive vice president of The News, said the Scotland letter was part of a morning delivery of mail that News employees picked up about 9 a.m. from the William Street Post Office. The letter was addressed to The Buffalo News but not to any particular individual.

A News mailroom employee, who was not identified by the newspaper, opened the letter about 10 a.m. and discovered the powder. Casell said the letter itself had a single word that he said appeared to be "Jihad."

The News employee was wearing a mask and gloves and opened the letter in a basement room separate from the newspaper's main mail handling room. The News set up the separate system to open mail after letters containing anthrax and look-alike powders were sent to national media outlets.

FBI agents, hazardous-material crews, police and fire units arrived at the newspaper, and made arrangements to remove the letter for testing.

A similar envelope was found Monday in the Albany Times Union mailroom, and the New York Times received a letter with a Glasgow postmark on Tuesday.

In both cases, as with the letter sent to The News, the letters bore no return address and were not addressed to any particular person or department at the respective newspapers. Both letters tested negative for anthrax.

In the Times Union incident, a mailroom clerk, wearing latex gloves and a nose mask, spotted the suspicious letter containing a brown powder at the paper's off-site mail facility. Police agencies were notified, and the facility was shut down while testing procedures were conducted.

The New York Times also closed its mailroom after discovery of the letter, which contained a white powder. Two employees who were in the immediate area were tested for exposure.

District of Columbia police investigated the envelope that was hand-delivered between 10:15 and 10:45 this morning to The News' Washington Bureau.

It was addressed to The News by hand, and building security officers said the return address did not immediately check out. The envelope was not opened, and in fact was not touched by an employee of the bureau. Its contents will be analyzed.

Building security called District of Columbia police, shut off the ventilation and sealed off the bureau's portion of the building.

Delivery of mail in the building has been suspended since Friday because the mail is all processed through the Brentwood Station, where two employees died after contracting inhaled anthrax.

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