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Pakistani Detained in Anthrax Case

November 3, 2001

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KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) _ Police in Pakistan detained a man on Saturday in connection with a mailed letter believed to contain anthrax.

The man, Mohammad Yousaf, said a friend had put powder in an envelope along with a news release that was sent from Yousaf’s office to Pakistan’s largest newspaper, the Daily Jang, police said. Yousaf, who works for a non-governmental organization that runs education projects in Karachi, said he was unaware the powder had been put in the envelope.

Police were searching for the friend, Mohammad Salim, an employee at a computer company in the port city.

The editorial offices of the newspaper reopened Saturday, one day after they were sealed for decontamination because of the letter.

The Daily Jang has set up a special room for handling mail and provided masks and gloves to workers who open it, said Zahid Hussain, a reporter.

At a news conference in Islamabad, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said two people at the newspaper had been exposed to anthrax but had not been infected.

Dozens of staffers, including the reporter who opened the letter, were taking antibiotics as a precaution.

On Friday, workers in protective suits sealed the newsroom after tests at a private laboratory showed the presence of anthrax in powder on the press release, which arrived Oct. 23.

However, Health Minister Abdul Malik Kasi questioned the accuracy of the test and said the Pakistan National Institute of Health would conduct its own test on the powder.

Officials feared the incident might be in retaliation for the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

The Urdu-language Jang newspaper has generally been supportive of Musharraf, who has sided with the United States in its war against Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban movement and terrorism suspect Osama bin Laden.

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