White powder sent to 2 Edmonton mosques being investigated by hate crimes unit

Two possible anthrax scares at mosques in Edmonton are being investigated by the EPS hate crime and violent extremism unit.

Packages containing white power were mailed to two Edmonton mosques over the past week, Edmonton police confirmed Thursday afternoon.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims issued a statement, calling it an apparent anthrax scare.

The first incident happened last Friday at a mosque near 43 Street and 33 Avenue in Mill Woods, where the NCCM said a mosque employee opened a package.

“Immediately, a white power substance landed on their skin and clothes,” a statement from the NCCM said.

Read more: Edmonton committee unanimously approves anti-racism strategy

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The second was found on Thur. Apr. 21 at a mosque in the area of 61 Avenue and 172 Street in west Edmonton.

“A white power also burst out when the package was opened and is currently being analyzed by the authorities,” the NCCM said while condemning the acts.

Edmonton Fire Rescue Services said crews were called by Edmonton police just after noon to a suspicious package at the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) in the Callingwood area.

Fire crews, including the HazMat team, arrived on scene at the Lessard Shopping Centre a few minutes later, where the building was evacuated and the package was isolated.

“The substance was determined to be coffee creamer,” EFRS said in an email. Edmonton police also said the white powder in both incidents was deemed to be an innocuous substance.

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“While we do not want members of our community to unduly panic, we want to be clear that this is concerning. If anyone receives a suspicious package, please call 911 or the non-emergency line,” the NCCM said.

Read more: Anthrax can live in soil for as long as 50 years before it kills grazing animals: experts

Two decades ago, anthrax scares killed several people in the United States.

In the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, anonymous letters laced with deadly anthrax spores began arriving at media companies and congressional offices.

Contact with the spores can cause severe illness. Over the ensuing months, five Americans died from inhaling anthrax and 17 others were infected after exposure.

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