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‘Explosive device’ rattles Yale

Boston, May 22 (Reuters): An “explosive device” went off yesterday afternoon in a mailroom of Yale University’s law school, the FBI said, but there were no immediate reports of any injuries.

An FBI spokesman speaking in Washington said investigators from the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New Haven, Connecticut, where Yale is based, were headed to the scene of the blast.

University officials said they cleared the area and were investigating. Officials had no reports of any injuries, a Yale staff member said.

A New Haven city official reached by phone said only: “There has been an explosion.” Police and emergency vehicles were seen around buildings on the Ivy League school’s campus.

Terror fears

A call for holy war on Americans and Jews, apparently made by Osama bin Laden’s top aide, raised fears yesterday of a new terror attack, as a source said Saudi Arabia foiled a September 11-style hijack.

US military bases went on their highest alert following bloody suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco last week. Al Jazeera television aired an audio tape it said was from Ayman al-Zawahri, bin Laden’s top lieutenant, who urged Muslims to strike at the embassies and commercial interests of the US, Britain and Australia.

A Saudi source said a suicide airliner attack had been thwarted by the arrest of three Moroccans, rejecting comments by interior minister Prince Nayef that no such plot had existed. Britain’s envoy said the oil-rich kingdom was riskier than ever.

Egypt tightened security near embassies, foreigners’ homes and tourist sites, anxious it might suffer the next blow after suicide bombings killed 34 people in Riyadh, mostly foreigners, and 41 in Casablanca.

The al Qaida network was blamed for the Riyadh attacks, while Morocco has said the Casablanca attacks were linked to international terrorism.

Oil prices rose sharply amid warnings of further attacks. Analysts said last week’s bombings helped reverse a 25 per cent slide in oil prices since mid-March.

Washington also put pressure on Tehran, saying it had told Iraq’s neighbour this week to crack down on suspected al Qaida members it believes operate there despite official denials.

US officials said the defence intelligence agency raised its warning of terror attack against military facilities and bases in the US to its highest level.

The officials said additional anti-aircraft missile systems would be deployed and air patrols in the Washington area increased.

On Tuesday the U.S. government -- worried the recent bombings could presage attempts to strike on American soil -- raised its general terror alert status to the second-highest level.

CODED MESSAGE IN AIDE'S WORDS'

Earlier taped messages from bin Laden have been seen as signs of impending attacks and the latest words purported to be from his aide will be pored over by Western and Middle Eastern security agencies.

”The crusaders and the Jews only understand the language of murder, bloodshed...and of the burning towers,” Zawahri was heard to say on the tape broadcast by Qatar-based Jazeera.

That reference to the destruction of New York's World Trade Center towers in 2001, with the loss of some 3,000 lives, was not followed by any comment on the Saudi and Moroccan bombings.

The tape appeared to date from the early days of the U.S.-led war on Iraq, an invasion some experts had warned could spark revenge attacks by Muslim extremists. Britain and Australia sent troops to Iraq, though Norway opposed the war.

A U.S. intelligence official said the Central Intelligence Agency was analysing the tape.

In February, bin Laden urged Muslims to free themselves and said: “The most eligible for liberation are Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.”

A Saudi source said three armed Moroccan al Qaida suspects had planned to hijack a civilian plane and crash into landmarks in the kingdom, but were arrested at Jeddah airport on Monday.

The interior minister denied it, saying only two Moroccans had been arrested and were wanted over previous security cases.

But the source -- a senior official in the Saudi security service -- stood by his comments. “They were planning a suicide hijack to attack Saudi landmarks,” he told Reuters.

Britain's ambassador Derek Plumbly said the terror threat in Saudi Arabia was now of a “completely new order”.

”We've now got information, non-specific information about targets and so on, that an attack or attacks might actually be imminent,” he said in a radio interview.

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