Midwest mail resumes

BY PJ HELLER | WASHINGTON, DC | May 6, 2002



"We are instructing our carriers not to deliver to any closed receptacles."

—Mike Maruzek


Wary postal workers planned to resume delivery of mail today to rural roadside boxes -- only if the doors to the boxes are open -- after 14 pipe bombs were found in mailboxes in three Midwestern states.

Explosive devices were found in the last few days in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska and typewritten notes found with some of the devices warned that "more attention getters are on the way."

Two pipe bombs reported in Nebraska on Sunday turned out to be hoaxes, the Nebraska State Patrol said. Six people, two residents and four postal workers, were injured in Illinois and Iowa by the pipe bombs. One of the injured, a 61-year-old Iowa woman, was the only person to remain hospitalized Sunday night. She was reported in fair condition.

None of the six devices found in Nebraska exploded, nor did two found in Iowa. Postal officials, along with the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and state and local law enforcement officials, were investigating the incidents, which they described as an act of "domestic terrorism."

Officials also warned residents to exercise "extreme caution" with their roadside rural-type mailboxes. "If you see wires, strings or any other suspicious materials -- on, in or around your mailbox -- or if you see any suspicious activity around mailboxes, contact local law enforcement personnel immediately," the postal service advised.

Postal officials on Saturday suspended mail delivery and pickup from rural roadside boxes in parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Customers had to pick up their mail at the local post office and were required to show identification.

Delivery service to residences and businesses with secure boxes or door delivery were not affected.

Authorities said mail delivery would resume Monday but that the doors of the rural roadside boxes would have to be open. "We are instructing our carriers not to deliver to any closed receptacles," said Mike Maruzek, postal service district manager for Nebraska and southwest Iowa.

Investigators, meantime, attempted to determine the reason why the bombs -- made of three-quarter-inch steel pipe attached to a nine-volt battery -- were placed in the mailboxes.

"You have gotten our attention," said Weysan Dun of the FBI's Omaha office. "We are not certain we understand your message. We would like to hear from you. We are listening. You do not need to send any more attention getters."

Six of the pipe bombs were discovered in Nebraska on Saturday; five of them were in rural roadside boxes, the sixth in a residential project. Eight other pipe bombs were found Friday in Illinois and Iowa. Authorities said the bombs were rigged to go off when the devices were touched or moved.


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