The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has begun analysis of suspicious packages containing pipe bombs mailed to former U.S. President Barack Obama, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, and a host of other political leaders in the U.S.
The suspicious packages received at multiple locations in the New York and Washington, D.C., areas and Florida are being sent for analysis at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.
The series of explosive devices were also mailed to current and former political leaders as well as the CNN’s New York bureau, including Democratic Representative Maxine Waters and former Attorney-General Eric Holder.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said: “This investigation is of the highest priority for the FBI.
“We have committed the full strength of the FBI’s resources and, together with our partners on our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, we will continue to work to identify and arrest whoever is responsible for sending these packages.
“We ask anyone who may have information to contact the FBI. Do not hesitate to call; no piece of information is too small to help us in this investigation.”
The bureau, which depicted the packages in a photograph, said they were similar in appearance, and contained potentially destructive devices.
FBI said the packages were mailed in manila envelopes with bubble wrap interior.
The packages were affixed with computer-printed address labels and six Forever stamps, the bureau said.
“All packages had a return address of “DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ” [sic] in Florida,” FBI said.
It said the package addressed to Holder did not reach its intended destination, but was rerouted to the return address in Florida.
“The FBI will continue to work with our federal law enforcement partners at the United States Secret Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as our state and local law enforcement partners, to identify and arrest the person or people responsible for sending these packages.
“It is possible that additional packages were mailed to other locations. The FBI advises the public to remain vigilant and not touch, move or handle any suspicious or unknown packages.
“If you have information about these packages, please contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov.
“If you observe any suspicious activity that requires an immediate response, please call 911 or contact your local law enforcement,” the bureau said.
Meanwhile, reactions and condemnations have continued to trail the mailing of pipe bombs.
President Donald Trump had tweeted: “The safety of the American People is my highest priority. I have just concluded a briefing with the FBI, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Secret Service…”
Earlier, while condemning the incident, Trump said “acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America”.
Trump said: “The full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct this investigation and bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice.
“This egregious conduct is abhorrent to everything we hold dear and sacred as Americans. We will spare no resources or expense in this effort”.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders later said in a statement: “We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures”.
First Lady Melania Trump also condemned the incident saying “we cannot tolerate those cowardly attacks and I strongly condemn all who choose violence”.
In her reaction, Mrs Clinton said: “We are fine, thanks to the men and women of the Secret Service who intercepted the package addressed to us long before it made its way to our home.
“It is a troubling time isn’t it? And it’s a time of deep divisions and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together”.
CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the president’s and White House’s comments.
Zucker said: “There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media.
“The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that”.
In a joint statement, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the president’s remarks on Wednesday fell short.
“We all take an oath to support and defend the constitution and protect the American people, and that is our first responsibility.
“However, President Trump’s words ring hollow until he reverses his statements that condone acts of violence,” they said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also said the incident was “clearly an act of terrorism”.