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Anthrax Received by Mail in Nairobi, Kenya

Aired October 18, 2001 - 05:55   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We have more now on the breaking story that we delivered to you moments ago, word now the first appearance of anthrax outside of the U.S. since September 11.

Let's check in now with our Katherine Bond who is standing by on the telephone now from Nairobi, Kenya -- Katherine.

KATHERINE BOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kenya's Minister of Health, Professor Sam Ongeri, has said this morning that three envelopes containing a white powdery substance has been brought to the attention of the Ministry of Health here in recent days. One of them, he says, has tested positive for anthrax and they're not sure which strain yet.

It was sent, apparently, from Atlanta, Georgia, via Miami, Florida, to a private citizen in Kenya he did not identify that citizen, but did say that four members of that person's family are now being observed, possibly treated for symptoms.

HARRIS: Well, Katherine, we understand there were two other letters that were also mentioned in this report. Do we know what's being done with them right now?

BOND: They'll be examined by Kenya's Institute of Medical Research, and as yet, they have not yet ascertained whether they're positive for any strain of anthrax or not. But one of them is believed to have been in an envelope stamped with Pakistani stamps on the outside, another to have been sent from Nairobi, Kenya, the capital of Kenya, to a provincial town called Neary. And those are the details that we have so far on those two other envelopes.

HARRIS: Katherine, any idea why this may be showing up in Kenya at this particular -- at this time? And many people could imagine why we'd see this in the U.S. but why Kenya? Any idea?

BOND: Well, Kenya's got links, hasn't it, to Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network before. It was the scene of a -- of the bombing of the U.S. Embassy here in August 1998 in which more than 200 Kenyans died when the buildings next door to the embassy collapsed, killing about 90 people. And other people were injured in the surroundings of embassy, about 40 inside the embassy itself, including 12 Americans. So I mean it's not the first time that Kenya's been linked to al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. going to link this you know these anthrax -- this anthrax scare to the same network. So, no, I mean that's the only -- the only kind of link. It doesn't -- it doesn't seem so surprising to hear of it in Kenya because Kenya has been the victim of terrorism before -- Leon.

HARRIS: But, Katherine, what about the person who actually received this letter or any of the three that may have received these letters, do we know anything about them? Are they U.S. citizens? Are they in some way linked to the U.S. embassies or U.S. interests there?

BOND: One of the Kenyan papers reported this morning that the person who'd received the letter containing a positive sample of anthrax was a Kenyan doctor, but we haven't had confirmation of that from Kenya's Ministry of Health. So, no, perhaps early days yet. Not sure as to why particular people would have been sent letters here -- whether they worked for American organizations or whatever the connection may or may not be.

HARRIS: More details to come. Katherine Bond in Nairobi, thank you very much, we appreciate that report. Thank you for giving us to -- getting to us, rather, on that breaking news.

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