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Mumbai, Sep 15: In what may signal the kind of terror threat that we now live under, the police is all set to acquire six letter bomb detectors. In a tender floated on Wednesday September 12, week for new equipment for its Bomb Disposal Squad, the police has asked for not just protective gear for its officers but also special devices that can scan bombs that are sent to unsuspecting receivers disguised as ordinary mail.

The move by the police also suggests that all large offices, both government and corporate, that receive bulk mail during the ordinary transaction of their daily may be under the threat of such bomb attacks.

Joint commissioner of police (law and order), K L Prasad, admitted that currently the Bomb Disposal Squad did not have any letter bomb detectors. Prasad was however reluctant to go into details of how the police was going to use the detectors once it got hold of them. "These things are sensitive and I cannot share much information," Prasad told TOI.

A mail bomb, also called parcel bomb, letter bomb or post bomb, is an explosive device sent via the postal service, and designed with the intention to injure or kill the recipient when opened. They have been used in indiscriminate terrorist attacks, most famously by the Unabomber in the United States of America. Several western countries have specialised agencies, whose job is in part the interdiction of mail bombs and the investigation of mail bombings.

Mail bombs are usually set to explode immediately on opening, with the intention of seriously injuring or killing the recipient (who may or may not be the person to whom the bomb was addressed). Investigators say that parcel bombs may have excessive postage because a bomber usually does not want to mail a parcel over the counter, having to deal with a clerk, or because he/she doesn't want to take any risk the parcel will be returned to him for postage due.

Letter bombs may feel rigid, or appear uneven or lopsided. Package bombs may have an irregular shape, soft spots, or bulges. Oil or grease stains on the envelope are also indicated as warning signs. A related threat is mail containing unidentified powders or chemicals. In some cases, these turn out to be harmless, sent as a joke or hoax threat.


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