Japanese, Thai, German, Canadian Embassies Hit by Security Scare

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- The embassies of Japan, Thailand, Germany and Canada were gripped by a security scare Tuesday after receiving suspicious packages, an apparent hoax in retaliation for perceived injustices against the Muslim world, police said.

In the most serious disruption, the Japanese Embassy was evacuated after it received a large envelope addressed to the ambassador, bearing a postmark from Malaysia's northeastern Kelantan state.

Similar packages were received by the German, Canadian and Thai embassies, as well as the Thai consulate in the northern town of Penang, said Kuala Lumpur police chief Mustafa Abdullah.

"The parcels came with some threat or retaliation for so-called injustices the countries have done to the Muslim world. We believe it is from the same source," he said.

"We believe this is a prank. But we cleared the embassies as a precaution and things are back to normal now. There is nothing to fear," he said.

Witnesses outside the Japanese Embassy said the package, retrieved by firefighters and hazardous material unit personnel, contained some papers, a compact disc and a liquid substance.

"Police checked at least two of parcels. The liquid turned out to be some kind of oil, nothing harmful," said Mustafa.

The U.S. Embassy said it has not been subjected to any security threat, nor has it received any suspicious package.

The alarm was first raised after the staff at the Japanese Embassy were instructed to leave the building by a message on the mission's public announcement system, but no reason was given.

Soon ambulances, fire trucks and the fire department's hazardous material unit arrived and entered the building to take away the package. Police sealed off part of the road in front of the embassy.

While the drama was unfolding, police were called to the Thai, German and Canadian embassies, which all reported receiving an envelope that contained "a suspicious substance," said embassy officials.

Police have increased security for embassies and tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur following Saturday's bomb attacks that killed 22 people on neighboring Indonesia's Bali island.

In Tokyo, the Japanese Foreign Ministry confirmed "a suspicious package" was sent to the embassy and all of about 30 staff were evacuated. A ministry official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, said the case is under investigation and there was no immediate comment.

(c) 2005 Associated Press