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Man in Australia arrested over suspicious consulate packages

Australian police arrested a man after 38 suspicious packages containing a possibly hazardous substance were sent to foreign consulates in the Australian cities of Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

The 48-year-old was arrested at his home in Shepparton, Victoria state, on Wednesday night, and charged with sending dangerous articles to be carried by a postal service, police said. He was due to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court later on Thursday.

Around 10 diplomatic missions, mostly in Melbourne, on Wednesday reported the delivery of suspicious packages, some of them labelled “asbestos.” The missions included those from the United States, Britain, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Israel, Switzerland and Greece.

This followed the discovery and removal on Monday of a suspicious package at the Argentinian Consulate in Sydney.

Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police said in a joint statement they will allege the substance in the packages was sourced from the man’s Shepparton home.

“Police have so far recovered 29 of these packages, with forensic testing to be undertaken on them to determine the exact composition of the material in them,” the statement said.

“Police have identified all intended recipients and have put processes in place to recover the outstanding packages. There is no ongoing threat to the general public,” it added.