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Harmless Packages Spark L.A., NYC Fears

AP | September 12 2006

A grenade-shaped perfume bottle left at New York's main bus terminal and a suspicious package in a trash can in Los Angeles forced evacuations Tuesday, reflecting the heightened vigilance surrounding the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Neither item spotted Tuesday was found to be dangerous, and the evacuation orders were lifted within two hours. But in both cases, bomb squads were called out and people were ushered out of the building.

In Los Angeles, a suspicious package was found about 6:40 a.m. in or near a downtown federal building that houses government offices, including those for Citizenship and Immigrations Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Officer Martha Garcia, a police spokeswoman.

She didn't immediately know how many people were ordered to evacuate.

In New York, one wing of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan was evacuated after the bottle was spotted shortly before 11 a.m.

The bomb squad determined that the "suspicious device" was a perfume bottle that had been left on top of an empty bag in a passenger area of NJ Transit, spokesman Tony Ciavolella said. He said the closed section of the bus terminal reopened at 12:10 p.m.

The anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks a day earlier was also marked with reminders of the sometimes tense new reality that has settled on the nation, and particularly its transportation systems.

New York's bustling Pennsylvania Station was briefly evacuated Monday because of a suspicious duffel bag that turned out to contain only trash, and a jet bound for San Francisco was diverted to Dallas after a backpack and handheld e-mail device were found on board. Both items were pronounced harmless.

Wilson Baccus, manager of California Dining at the Federal Building in Los Angeles, said he and his employees were evacuated Tuesday morning, but he wasn't concerned about a possible threat.

"We've had this happen before, a couple of times," Baccus said. "I'm kind of getting used to it."

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