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Seven ill in letter scare at Palestinian PM office. 07/08/2006. ABC News Online
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Last Update: Monday, August 7, 2006. 10:39pm (AEST)
Seven ill in letter scare at Palestinian PM office
Seven people in the Palestinian Prime Minister's office in the West Bank have fallen ill after opening a letter containing an unknown substance, government and hospital officials say.
The envelope, , was addressed to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a leader of the militant Hamas movement who is based in the Gaza Strip, Deputy Prime Minister Naser al-Shaer told a news conference.
Several people lost consciousness after the envelope, containing tissue paper, was opened, he says.
"The Prime Minister has formed a committee to investigate and medical labs are checking the substance," Mr Shaer said.
Hospital officials say seven people were admitted for treatment.
"They said they inhaled gas after opening an envelope," a doctor said, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorised to speak to journalists.
"They have breathing difficulties and eye and nose irritation."
Mr Shaer says letters addressed to Haniyeh are usually opened in the Prime Minister's office in the West Bank city of Ramallah before being forwarded to him in Gaza.
Hamas, an Islamist group dedicated to Israel's destruction, swept to victory in a Palestinian parliamentary election in January.