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By Aaron Wherry
United States Attorney General John Ashcroft cautioned against anthrax paranoia and promised to prosecute and punish those who fake anthrax or other terrorist attacks, as hysteria and fear continues to grip the
False threats are "grotesque transgressions of the public trust," Ashcroft said at an afternoon news conference. "The threat of bioterrorism is no joking matter."
The FBI has arrested one Connecticut man and two people outside New York in connection with anthrax hoaxes.
At least 13 people in the U.S. have anthrax or have been exposed to anthrax spores in recent weeks. Robert Stevens, 63, photo editor of the Sun tabloid, is the only death linked to the recent attacks.
Seven other cases have been identified in Florida.
Four people have tested positive for anthrax in connection with a letter sent to NBC in New York. The seven-month-old son of an ABC News producer has tested positive for the skin form of anthrax after recently visiting the newsroom.
In Nevada, anthrax was detected in a letter sent from Malaysia to a Microsoft office in Reno. No one has tested positive as a result of the letter, but officials are conducting further tests.
No confirmed cases have been linked to the anthrax-tainted letter sent to U.S. Senator Tom Daschle's office in Washington, D.C..
Two post office employees in Trenton, New Jersey the origin of at least two letters have shown symptoms of the disease.
Anthrax scares continued across the globe, with suspicious cases reported in Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Israel, South Korea, Sweden and Yugoslavia.
In Afghanistan, U.S.-led strikes continued with mixed results.
A Taliban stronghold was hammered with the heavy machine-gun and cannon fire of an American aircraft in one of the day's heaviest attacks, while an International Red Cross compound in Kabul was hit by American fire.
"We are very sad because these things belong to the people," said Taliban security chief Mullah Rohani.
Also Tuesday, three farmers in the Kabul area were injured when bombs fell nearby, according to a neighbourhood shopkeeper who did not give his name.
The Taliban regime still possesses planes and helicopters, said U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, while acknowledging that Afghan civilians have been unintended victims of U.S. attacks.
with files from Associated and Canadian Press