Bio-Terror Grips the Globe

In a bid to control scaremongers, British parliamentarians are rushing in new legislation under which people carrying out hoaxes involving bio-chemical, radioactive or nuclear weapons face up to seven years in prison. Under existing British law, only hoaxes relating to explosive devices are an offence.

Thai officials have announced that the government would not inform citizens of suspicious letters until authorities had confirmed that they did indeed contain anthrax. The policy, said Deputy Health Minister Surapong Suebwonglee in the capital of Bangkok today, was not a case of "withholding of information" but merely an attempt to control the panic.

It Could Be Talc

Despite a precautionary headline in a leading newspaper, which read, "It could be talcum powder," rising bio-terror in India compelled health authorities to issue government guidelines on anthrax treatment to more than 50,000 health care centers across the country in a bid to assure its billion-strong populace, many of whom have meager access to health care, that the government had things under control.

Yemen has also had its share of anthrax scares. A Yemeni official today confirmed that two suspicious packages containing an Arabic magazine and a letter powdered with a white substance had been found by mail workers. The announcement followed the discovery of a suspicious letter mailed to the Belgian embassy in the capital of Sanaa last week. The letter was being tested in a laboratory in Brussels, Belgium.

A year ago, Yemen was the site of a major terrorist attack, when a boat laden with explosives drew up alongside the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden and detonated, killing 17 U.S. military personnel.

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