Yemen ready to probe suspect packages: govt official

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Yemen is ready to launch an investigation into suspicious packages intercepted on two planes in transit to the United States, a senior government official told AFP on Friday.

"Yemen is ready to investigate the suspicious packages which came from our country," said the official, asking to remain anonymous.

The official pointed out there were no direct cargo flights from Yemen to the United States and gave assurances that his country's airports implemented "strict security measures in line with international standards."

The packages from Yemen destined for religious institutions in Chicago unleashed an international security alert Friday as investigators swept US cargo planes for possible Al-Qaeda bombs.

US President Barack Obama was informed late Thursday of a "potential terrorist threat" surrounding the packages and intelligence agencies were investigating whether Al-Qaada's branch in Yemen was involved, US officials said.

"Last night, intelligence and law enforcement agencies discovered potential suspicious packages on two planes in transit to the United States," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

"Authorities were able to identify and examine two suspicious packages, in East Midlands, United Kingdom and one in Dubai. Both of these packages originated from Yemen."

The FBI confirmed that no explosives had been found in the packages, both of which originated in Yemen and were destined for undisclosed religious institutions in Chicago.

A link to Al-Qaeda in Yemen was "a possibility we're looking into but it's too soon to say definitively," said a US counter-terrorism official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

It was not clear what was in the Fedex package found in Dubai but the US delivery giant Fedex said subsequently that it was suspending all deliveries from Yemen.

© 2010 AFP

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