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Arab is nabbed trying to post anthrax to Ireland.

Byline: DAMIEN LANE

POLICE in Germany arrested a man yesterday as he posted a number of letters containing suspect powder to Ireland.

The man was nabbed as he tried to post five letters at the main post office in the central town of Kassel.

He was taken away for questioning and the suspect packages were sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Police said the letter did not have a return address as required by law.

It is not known who the letters were addressed to here.

A 28-year-old student was also arrested in nearby Muenster as he posted another letter containing white powder and a picture of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Meanwhile, Gardai were questioning a woman after a hoax package containing white flour was sent to a businessman in Co Kilkenny.

A file is now being prepared for the DPP.

If convicted of a deliberate hoax she could face five years in jail.

The news of the incidents in Germany and Kilkenny came as Bertie Ahern admitted the government caused major public confusion in the wake of 10 suspected anthrax scares on Wednesday.

He said the government was experiencing major difficulties in preparing for the threat of biological attacks.

He was forced to respond to sharp criticism from opposition leaders who slammed him for Ireland's "anthrax shambles".

Fine Gael's Jim Higgins said: "The government is in total disarray. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing and there is no co-ordinated plan."

The Taoiseach advised members of the public to call the Gardai first if they have any suspicions about letters or packages.

As people's fears of an anthrax attack continued to grow there were three more alerts yesterday.

Army bomb disposal experts - trained in chemical, nuclear and biological warfare - were called to Trinity College in Dublin for a second time in 24 hours.

They also responded to a scare at UCD.

And chemical warfare units took away a suspect package containing white powder from the Graville Hotel in Waterford.

Commandant Kieran McDaid of the Defence Forces said: "The army's response to Wednesday's anthrax scares went very smoothly.

"All the suspect packages were safely removed by our teams to Cherry Orchard hospital for quarantine and analysis."

The government's shambolic response to the biological threat was made worse yesterday when officials admitted they also had no plan for a nuclear attack.

In the wake of the 11 September atrocities countries worldwide were urged by the World Health Organisation to prepare for possible nuclear, biological and chemical attacks.

But Joe Jacob, the minister in charge of nuclear emergencies, has yet to prepare a simple fact sheet advising Irish people what to do in the event of a nuclear threat.

In an interview last month Jacob advised people to get into their cars or stay home and close their windows if Ireland is attacked with chemical or nuclear weapons.

A spokeswoman at Jacob's office said: "Yes, there is a lot of confusion about who is in control.

"But a plan will be published once a nuclear accident drill is completed.

"The plan is there but it has to be tested.

"That will happen in November."

CAPTION(S):

KILLER: Anthrax spores; ANGER: Jim Higgins
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 19, 2001
Words:535
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