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Powder packages spark embassy scare in Australia
(Updates with police saying powder harmless)
CANBERRA, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Australian police launched a criminal investigation on Wednesday after the Israeli, U.S. and British embassies were sent packages containing white powder, forcing evacuation of the Israeli and American missions.
"We are treating all three as linked until we can prove otherwise, given they were received on the same day, and a crime scene has been declared," a police spokesman said.
Tests on all three powder packages found they were harmless, police later said.
The heavily protected Israeli mission, in the city's leafy diplomatic quarter, was the first to receive a powder package, followed by the U.S. embassy nearby. The British mission was not evacuated after powder was received there, a spokesman said.
Several foreign embassies, including the American, Japanese and South Korean missions, have been targeted in powder scares in recent years, along with Australia's Parliament House. All turned out to be harmless.
In 2005, a full-scale emergency was triggered after powder was sent to the Indonesian embassy in Canberra during a controversy over the drug trial and jailing of an Australian woman in Bali.
An envelope containing white powder was also sent to then Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer at Parliament House. (Reporting by Michael Perry; editing by Roger Crabb)
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