‘Suspicious packages’ sent to Clinton, Obama; CNN evacuated

US officials said on Wednesday they intercepted suspicious packages, identified as potential explosive devices, sent to the homes of former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

A device containing wires and pipes was also mailed to the Time Warner Center, where CNN is based, in New York, CNN reported on Wednesday. 

The US Secret Service said it recovered a single package addressed to Clinton in Westchester, a suburb north of Manhattan late on Tuesday.

A second package, addressed to Obama, was found early on Wednesday in Washington, DC.

“The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such,” the Secret Service said in a statement.

“The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them,” it said.

The Secret Service launched an investigation to find the source of the packages. The devices sent to the Obama and Clinton homes were similar to one found on Monday at the home of billionaire philanthropist George Soros, according to the Associated Press, citing an unnamed official. 

Police are also investigating a suspicious package sent to a building where Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democratic US Representative. The building was evacuated, but it remains unclear what the package contains, according to 7 News Miami. 

CNN evacuated 

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is also responding to the suspicious device found at the Time Warner building, CNN reported. 

According to CNN, law enforcement officials are treating the device, found in the building’s mailroom, as an explosive.

Anchors were on air from New York discussing the explosive devices addressed to Obama and Clinton when they were interrupted by a fire alarm and cut to a commercial. 

The news organisation’s New York staff evacuated the building as a precaution. The device mailed to CNN was delivered to the Time Warner Center’s mail room at 9:30 am and was made of pipes and wires, according to the network’s Brian Stelter.

The device was reportedly addressed to former CIA director John Brennan care of CNN, although Brennan is not a CNN contributor.

The White House condemned the attempted attacks, saying “terrorising acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law”.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders added in a statement that the “United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating and will take all appropriate actions to protect anyone threatened by these cowards”.

Vice President Mike Pence, writing in a tweet, also denounced the attempted attacks as “cowardly” and “despicable”. 

The news of the supicious devices comes less than two weeks before the November 6 midterm elections. 

More soon…

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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