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Duct-taped jars lead to Capitol arrests

From Ted Barrett

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two people were arrested at the U.S. Capitol Thursday after engaging a group of young tourists in chants and photographs before revealing what appeared to be dangerous items taped to their bodies, police said.

U.S. Capitol Police said the man and woman interacted with the children before exposing jars of what appeared to be clear liquid wrapped with duct tape.

"They had on devices that looked like they might be used in a suicide attack," said U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terry Gainer. FBI tests later proved the jars were empty except for a residue that turned out to be neither a chemical nor biological agent.

Police officers secured the Capitol and cleared the area after spotting the couple. Police, hazardous material and SWAT units responded along with agents from the FBI and ATF. Tourists and employees were cleared from many public parts of the building for about an hour.

Police said they do not know why the couple entered the building with the material under their clothes. The man wore an African-style robe and the woman wore a heavy overcoat.

"Whether these individuals were probing, testing, trying to make a statement or not is yet to be determined," Gainer said.

Capitol Police did not name the suspects but said the man is 33 years old and had an Iowa driver's license and the woman is 22 years old and had a Michigan driver's license. Police also said the couple had been seen by officers in the Capitol in recent days.

The couple went through the normal screening process before entering the Capitol Thursday.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Jessica Gissubel said the two would be charged with interstate transport of an explosive device under a section of the code that deals with hoaxes. They face up to 10 years in prison.

"We live in a time and day and age where it's unwise for someone to try to frighten other people," Gainer said.

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