Mail attack on Maryland government buildings singes two workers

Two packages mailed to Maryland government buildings ignited Thursday, producing smoke and odor and singing the fingers of two workers. Police suspect the two events, coming 15 minutes apart, are connected.

Law enforcement officials are pictured entering the Maryland Department of Transport headquarters in Hanover, Maryland, in this still image taken from a video released on Jan. 6. Two packages in the mailrooms of two Maryland state government buildings ignited on Thursday, but no one was seriously injured, officials said.

Two book-size packages containing incendiary devices ignited in Maryland state government buildings Thursday shortly after noon, producing smoke and odor but only minor injuries to two workers, Maryland State Police officials said.

Investigations into both incidents “are continuing,” state police spokesman Greg Shipley said in a televised news conference, adding that authorities "have indications" that the events are connected. The devices caused an “incendiary reaction producing small flame and fire,” he said. He said that “no explosive material has been found.”

The first incident occurred about 12:30 p.m. at the Jeffrey Building in downtown Annapolis, the state capital. The building contains gubernatorial offices including the Office of Homeland Security and the Veterans Affairs department. When the package was opened, it triggered what the state police described as a flash of fire, smoke, and a sulphur smell. For the employee who opened the package, the result was “fingers being singed,” Shipley said.

The second incident occurred approximately 15 minutes later at the Maryland Department of Transportation building in Hanover, Md., near the Baltimore Airport. In this incident, the device also produced a brief flash, smoke, and smell. The person who opened the package “complained of singed fingers,” Shipley said.

Maryland officials put a hold on state government mail delivery as a precaution.

The Maryland incidents come a little less than a year after a private pilot crashed his plane into an office building in Austin, Texas, where 200 employees of the Internal Revenue Service worked. The pilot, Joseph Stack III, had posted an antigovernment rant on a website.

State police spokesman Shipley said the Jeffrey Building package was addressed to Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), while the Hanover package was addressed to the state transportation department.

The FBI’s joint terrorism task force is participating in the investigation, the Maryland state police spokesman said.

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