U.S. embassy in Dakar closed following anthrax scare

The consular section of the United States embassy in Dakar, Senegal was closed for two days this week following the discovery of an envelope containing a white, powdery substance.

"On March 23, an envelope was discovered in the Consular Section of the US Embassy that contained a white powdery substance," an embassy statement said. "The Senegalese Police and Fire Department were called in to assist."

The consular section was closed on Tuesday following the powder's discovery but was back in operation again on Thursday.

"The substance has been tested in Washington DC and was found to be non-toxic," according to the statement. "Therefore, on March 25, the consular section reopened with full service operations."

Envelopes filled with white powder have, since the anthrax attacks in the United States in 2001, become an increasingly common hoax at U.S. embassies. The 2001 attacks killed five people and infected several others.

Senegal is considered on of the United States' most important allies in Africa based upon its long history of close cooperation and friendship. The embassy has worked to promote human rights, disarmament, conflict resolution and peace-keeping missions on the African continent.

USAID has devoted more than $204 million for programs to develop Senegal's private sector businesses, strengthen democracy and support health and education.