Questions Surround Pakistani Prime Minister's Anthrax Mail Attack

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The prime minister of Pakistan had quite the scare last October, and he's now ready to talk about it. Yousuf Raza Gilani said via a spokesman on Wednesday that someone (whom spokesman Akram Shaheedi described as "a lady professor," according to the Telegraph) sent him a packet of anthrax in the mail.

Most headlines have been qualifying the news with "Pakistan says" because there are some unanswered questions in this story. For one thing, it's unlcear why the prime minister's office only told police in Islamabad about the packet a couple days ago, and decided to make the news public on Wednesday. The package's destination also seems a matter of confusion, as the Associated Press reports that  it went to Gilani's office, while the Telegraph says it went to his official residence. And then there's the professor, who hasn't been named and whose alleged motive is still unclear. Pakistan's government has been afraid of a military coup lately, but "it was not known if the professor had links to any militant groups," the AP reports.

Nobody's been arrested in the case, and nobody was injured, but laboratories run by Pakistan's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research did confirm the substance was really anthrax, Shaheedi told the AP. While anthrax has been used as a weapon of terror, most notably when several U.S. media outlets received packets of it in 2001, the Telegraph says this latest attack "marks the first time criminals have used the biological agent in an attack on a government office."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.