Explosive devices were sent to former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and CNN offices in Washington and New York, triggering an investigation on Wednesday into whether a bomber is targeting figures who were the subject of right-wing anger.
The US Secret Service, which guards serving and past presidents and their families, said the packages were intercepted and none of them reached the principals. The agency described the packages as “potential explosive devices”.
CNN offices were evacuated following an alert as news anchors were on air. The Secret Service described initial reports about the interception of another package headed for the White House as “incorrect”.
Media reports said the devices sent to CNN, Obama and Clinton were similar to one addressed to Democratic donor George Soros, which was discovered and destroyed earlier this week.
Law enforcement officials described the packages as rudimentary but functional explosive devices. A law enforcement source was cited by CNN as saying the devices were constructed similarly and at least one contained projectiles.
A total of five packages had been found till late Wednesday morning. The New York home of billionaire Soros was the first to receive a package on Monday. The Clintons’ package came on Tuesday and two more were sent to Obama and CNN Wednesday.
The target at CNN was John Brennan, the former CIA director in the Obama administration. All the targets have been critical of President Donald Trump. There were reports of the Florida offices of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democratic lawmaker, being evacuated because two packages had a return address with her name.
Trump was briefed on the packages and he retweeted an earlier message from vice president Mike Pence condemning the “attempted attacks” on the Obamas and the Clintons, adding, “I agree wholeheartedly.”
White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said, “We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures.
“These terrorising acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
The Secret Service said it intercepted a package addressed to the home of Hillary Clinton in Westchester County, New York. Early on Wednesday, a package addressed to the residence of Obama was intercepted in Kalorama in Washington.
“The packages were immediately identified as potential explosive devices,” it said.