Anthrax sent to Pakistani prime minister

A university professor allegedly sent an anthrax-containing packet to Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's office in October, a spokesman for the prime minister recently revealed.

The package, which was allegedly sent by a female professor who was not otherwise identified, did not make anyone ill. The motive for sending the packet to Gilani was unclear, the Associated Press reports.

Akram Shaheedi, the spokesperson for Gilani, said that laboratory tests run by the country's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Islamabad confirmed that the substance in the package was anthrax. A criminal case was filed on Tuesday. No arrests have yet been made.

While Islamic militants such as al-Qaida have carried out bomb and gun attacks against the Pakistani state, militants have not been known to send packages or letters containing toxic material. The United States has long expressed concern that al-Qaida and related groups would be interested in using chemical or biological agents in attacks.

Exposure to spores of anthrax can be deadly, but preparing the bacteria in a deliverable form requires access to a laboratory and specialist knowledge. Anthrax-laced letters were sent to government and media offices following the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States. Five people were killed and 17 others became ill. A scientist at a U.S. army research institute was accused by the FBI in 2008. The suspect killed himself as investigators closed in.