Czechs raise security after ministers get poison by mail

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Interior Ministry will tighten security at government offices after unknown culprits sent envelopes with deadly doses of poison to two ministries in recent days, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said on Friday.

The two poisoned letters were intercepted before reaching the addressees and no one was hurt. They envelopes were sent by mail from Sweden and Slovenia, addressed to Finance Minister Andrej Babis and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec.

The Czech Republic, a member of NATO and the European Union, does not have a record of terrorist attacks in the past decades.

"The central crisis committee agreed to raise security at selected state institutions, mainly ministries, and raise protection at other places," Chovanec told reporters. "We do not want to raise panic but ... we need to adopt these security measures." He said police, intelligence and counterintelligence cooperated on the investigation.

Two more envelopes, with harmless substances, arrived to the office of President Milos Zeman and a commercial television station. Another suspicious package was delivered to the Interior Ministry on Friday and sent for analysis.

Several hundreds of letters with harmless substances are delivered to state institutions every year, Chovanec said, but these were the first cases in which real poison was involved.

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