Two bombs found in Athens

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Associated Press

ATHENS (AP) — Two devices that appeared to be pipe bombs were found at separate post offices Tuesday, and both buildings were evacuated as a precaution, authorities said. No injuries were reported.

Columbus fire bomb squads, the FBI, a Postal Service inspector and local authorities examined the objects found in the small towns of Guysville and Stewart.

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The device in Guysville was later determined not to be explosive, Athens County spokeswoman Tracy Galway said. It wasn’t immediately clear if the device in Stewart was a bomb.

Both are pipes that have some kind of substance inside, and investigators were testing them for hazardous materials, Galway said.

The device in Guysville contained a liquid substance as well as papers, which the FBI was processing, an Athens County Emergency Management Agency statement said.

Fire officials and the American Red Cross set up evacuation sites at a gas station in Guysville and at a high school in Stewart and closed a 2-mile section of a state route that joins the towns. Each has fewer than 100 residents, said Athens County Planning Director Bob Eichenberg.

Authorities were hoping to clear both scenes and allow residents back into the areas by 11 p.m., Galway said.

The sheriff’s department also was investigating a bank robbery Tuesday in nearby Coolville but was treating it as a separate incident.

A contractor who delivers mail to the post offices discovered the devices and alerted the main office in Athens, The Athens Messenger reported on its Web site.

The contractor found the first device at the back door of the Guysville office and moved it slightly to make his delivery. It was about 1-foot long and appeared to have a transmitter. The second device was hanging on a side door of the Stewart office, the newspaper reported.

Postal service spokesman Ray Jacobs said postal employees are trained to isolate any suspicious item and not to touch it, but he didn’t know whether a contractor would receive the same training.

Jacobs wouldn’t speculate on why the devices were at the post offices.

‘‘I’m sure it will be a while before the investigation uncovers why and who did it,’’ he said.

County Prosecutor C. David Warren said he doesn’t think the devices are linked to explosives found Thursday at three sites in nearby Nelsonville, including one device that blew a window out of a camera shop. Three young men were charged in those incidents.