Suspicious powder in envelope triggers alarm at five Western consulates in Istanbul

Suspicious powder in envelope triggers alarm at five Western consulates in Istanbul

Suspicious powder in envelope triggers alarm at five Western consulates in Istanbul

Chemical and biological experts were dispatched to the Canadian office in Istanbul after a letter containing a suspicious substance was notified to the police, Oct. 24. DHA Photo

Packets of an unidentified yellow powder were sent to five Western consulates in Istanbul on Oct. 24, officials said, prompting security alerts following two militant attacks in Canada this week. 

Consulates of the United States, Canada, France, Germany and Belgium received suspicious packages, the officials said. It was not immediately clear what the powder was and Turkish officials said results of tests on them were due on Oct. 27. 

The number of people under strict medical observation, following the incident has increased to 25, the Turkish Health Ministry said Oct. 25. 19 people from the Canadian, 4 from the German and 2 from the Belgian consulates are currently held under supervision in an Istanbul hospital until the examination of the powder is completed.

A hospital treating the Canadians said the Consul General was among them. 

The U.S. consulate in Istanbul is working as normal despite the suspicious envelope, according to, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki.

" The envelope was handled in accordance with established protocols, and appropriate U.S. and Turkish authorities are investigating. The consulate is otherwise operating normally," Psaki said at a press briefin on Oct. 24. Psaki said she was not "aware of any specific impact" on anyone in the staff.  

One Canadian consulate employee came into direct contact with the package and six others had indirect exposure, Turkey's disaster management agency AFAD said in a statement. 

German and Belgian consular staff were also being monitored in hospital, the Ministry of Health added. 

A U.S. embassy spokesman confirmed the Consulate General had received a "suspicious" envelope containing a powder, but said it was dealt with according to security protocols and the consulate remained open. 

Istanbul's governor later confirmed the French consulate had also received a similar package. 

Teams decontaminated the Canadian and Belgium consulates and were working on cleaning the German mission, AFAD spokesman Doğan Eskinat said. Other consulates and embassies were reviewing their security arrangements. 

"There was a package with some yellow powder, suspicious, that was sent to the Canadian mission in Istanbul, it was sent to a number of other foreign missions," Canada's foreign affairs minister John Baird said in Ottawa 

"Out of an abundance of caution we've closed the mission until we can ensure the safety of all our employees." 

Canadian consulates and embassies overseas have been on heightened alert this week after two attacks in Canada. 

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, a Canadian citizen and convert to Islam, shot and killed a soldier stationed at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday before running into the nearby parliament buildings. He was killed by guards in a flurry of gunfire. 

Two days earlier, Martin Rouleau, a 25-year-old convert to Islam, drove over two Canadian soldiers in Quebec, killing one, police said. He also was shot dead by security officers.