In a big develepment, the United States Secret Service on Wednesday it has intercepted and proactively detonated two "suspicious packages" addressed to former President Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton earlier this week. Reuters a suspicious package was also sent to the White House. The package addressed to the White House was intercepted at an off-site facility.
Meanwhile, US news network CNN announced that it had evacuated its New York bureau over a similiar suspicious package. The New York police confirmed to AFP that its officers had been called to the Time Warner Center, where the CNN bureau in the US financial capital is located, to investigate reports of a suspicious package.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the targeting of Clinton and Obama with potential explosives as acts of "domestic terrorism." The White House condemned the "attempted violent attacks."
"We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
The Secret Service said neither Obama nor Clinton received the packages or were at risk of receiving them.
The packages were discovered during "routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such," the agency said in a statement.
"Both packages were intercepted prior to being delivered to their intended location. The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them," the statement said. Officials "proactively detonated" the device, and determined that it contained explosive powder and "had the components of a bomb," it said.
According to reports, investigators with the FBI, Secret Service and New Castle police department discovered the package around 1 am (local time). The New York Times reported that the first device was discovered by a technician who screens the mail sent to the Clinton's home in Chappaqua, New York. The incident comes two days after a bomb was planted in the mailbox at billionaire investor and major Democratic donor George Soros' Bedford home.
The FBI said the package intended for Clinton was found in the vicinity of her residence in Chappaqua, New York, but offered no additional comment. The Clintons have lived in Chappaqua, about 48 km north of New York City, since former President Clinton left office in 2001. Representatives for the Clintons referred press inquiries to the Secret Service, and a spokeswoman for Obama did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(With agency inputs)