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Police investigate white powder in New Zealand gov't members' mail


13:18, July 11, 2013

WELLINGTON, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Parts of the New Zealand capital were cordoned off Thursday after two envelopes containing white powder were sent to senior members of the ruling coalition administration.

Police, fire fighters and the army were called out to contain the areas and to test the powder, which was later identified as baking powder, said a statement from the New Zealand Police.

The first envelope was opened by a staff member in the Parliamentary office of Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee, who is also responsible for the rebuilding of the earthquake-battered Canterbury region and third in the government hierarchy after Prime Minister John Key and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.

The second envelope was opened by a staff member at the electorate office of Peter Dunne, whose United Future party is a crucial minor supporter of the government, in the Wellington suburb of Johnsonville.

"It is far too early to say who sent the envelopes, however, we can confirm that the powder was harmless baking powder," Wellington Area Commander, Inspector Jevon McSkimming, said in the police statement.

"An investigation has been launched and will be looking into who might have sent the envelopes. It is too early to say whether the envelopes were connected."

It was understood that neither politician was in their offices at the time the envelopes were opened, he said.

Dunne was Revenue Minister until he resigned last month in connection to the leaking of a report on New Zealand's intelligence services.

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