U.S. government officials say pipe bombs left in rural, roadside mailboxes in three U.S. states during the past few days were nearly identical, and most likely came from the same source. Since Friday, at least 15 pipe bombs have been found. Six people have been injured.
Federal agents say all of the mailbox bombs were made with the same materials, and had only slight variations in their detonation mechanisms. Also, identical or nearly identical anti-government notes were found along with most of the devices.
FBI special agent Jim Bogner says the letters appear to suggest these bombings are the work of a single person, though he is not ruling out the possibility that the mailbox bomber had help. "We understand that the individual has some kind of complaint, anti-government complaint," he said. "We are trying to understand that. Even though they talk about mailboxes, using devices, which injure people - a 70-year-old woman, a 61-year-old woman, postal carriers - that is not just targeting mailboxes, it is targeting individuals. We are hoping no one else gets hurt."
The letters complain about what the writer calls government intrusion into people's lives. It says the bombs are a way of getting attention, and that more "attention-getters" are on the way. Mr. Bogner says the text of the letter has appeared in newspapers, television and on the Internet, in hopes that someone will read it and maybe know who wrote it. "Maybe, someone has read this letter," he said. "It has been posted on various media Web sites, and it will be posted on the FBI's Web sites. We are hoping someone will look at that, recognize it and call us."
Mail delivery was resuming Monday in the parts of Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska where the pipe bombs were found Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Mike Matusek with the Postal Service in Nebraska, says deliveries and outgoing mail pickups will only be made at roadside mailboxes that have been left open. "If they put [outgoing mail] in the box and close the door, it could sit there, because we are not going to be opening those doors on those boxes until further notice," he said.
Four mail carriers and two mailbox owners were injured by the pipe bombs on Friday. Two of the victims have needed surgery, but none of the injuries are said to be life-threatening.