Police link wired parcel, 3 letter bombs
LONDON — British police said a suspicious package destroyed by bomb-disposal experts at the University of Glasgow on Wednesday contained an explosive device and was linked to three letter bombs sent to two London airports and a railway station.
The Metropolitan Police force’s Counter Terrorism Command said the item sent to the Scottish university had “similarities in the package, its markings and the type of device” to the three small improvised bombs received by the London transportation hubs Tuesday.
The mailing envelope sent to London’s Heathrow Airport with one of the bombs inside partly caught fire when someone opened it, but no one was injured.
The force said it had not identified the sender and urged transportation operators, mail sorting companies and schools “to be vigilant” about watching for suspicious packages.
The University of Glasgow said several buildings on its campus, including the mailroom, were evacuated “as a precautionary measure” after the package was found in the mailroom Wednesday morning.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson of Police Scotland said “the package was not opened, and no one was injured.”
He said bomb-disposal experts later performed a controlled explosion on the item.
Another package sparked an evacuation Wednesday at the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters in Edinburgh. It was found to contain “promotional goods” and deemed no threat to the public, police said.
The envelopes received in London appeared to carry Irish stamps.
Iranian: Support strong for ’15 nuke deal
VIENNA — Iran’s deputy foreign minister said Tehran has received “strong support” from all remaining parties in the 2015 nuclear deal with his country since the U.S. pulled out unilaterally last year.
Abbas Araghchi told reporters in Vienna on Wednesday that Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China have “acknowledged that the deal can only survive if Iran can receive the benefits of the deal” and remain committed to making it work.
Araghchi spoke after meeting with the remaining signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which provides Iran with sanctions relief in exchange for limiting its nuclear program.
He praised the Europeans’ establishment in January of INSTEX, a barter-type system designed to allow their businesses to skirt direct financial transactions with Iran and thereby evade possible U.S. sanctions.
Afghan attack kills at least 17 people
KABUL, Afghanistan — Militants in Afghanistan set off a suicide blast Wednesday morning and stormed a construction company near the airport in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, killing at least 17 people, officials said.
The dawn assault triggered an hours-long gunbattle with guards, drawing in U.S. forces to assist the Afghan troops in the shootout.
Among those killed were 16 employees of the Afghan construction company EBE and a military intelligence officer, said Attahullah Khogyani, the provincial governor’s spokesman. He added that nine other people were wounded in the attack, which lasted more than five hours.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban and the Islamic State group are active in eastern Afghanistan, especially in Nangarhar.
The two groups have been carrying out near-daily attacks across Afghanistan in recent years, mainly targeting the government and Afghan security forces and causing a large number of casualties, including among civilians. The attacks have continued despite stepped-up U.S. efforts to find a negotiated resolution of the war, now in its 18th year.
The attack was the second high-profile assault in the past six days. Over the weekend, the Taliban targeted an Afghan army unit at its camp in southern Helmand province, killing at least 23 troops and wounding more than 20 others.
Only 22 vaquitas remain, experts say
MEXICO CITY — Experts say only 22 vaquitas remain in the Gulf of California, the only place where the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise is found.
Researcher Jorge Urban said Wednesday that a commission of experts detected the 22 vaquitas over a network of acoustic monitors in the Gulf, also known as the Sea of Cortez.
The number is higher than many had expected. Some experts had predicted that only 12 to 15 would be found, based on previous rates of decline. It may be a sign the vaquita is holding on.
Emboldened fishermen have attacked the vaquita’s last line of defense — environmentalists from the Sea Shepherd group.
Sea Shepherd boats haul in illegal nets set for totoaba, a fish whose swim bladder is a delicacy in China. The nets catch and drown vaquitas.
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