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Packages found at a British airport and in Dubai contained explosives and represented a "credible terrorist threat", US president Barack Obama has said.
The president said the US-bound packages, which originated in Yemen and were found aboard cargo jets, appeared to be targeted at two synagogues in Chicago.
The president's comment contradicts earlier suggestions that the package found in Britain did not contain explosives.
A transatlantic terror alert was sparked after the discovery of one of the packages at East Midlands Airport on Friday morning.
Police were called to a freight distribution centre at the airport after officials raised concerns during a routine search.
Workers found a toner cartridge which had been manipulated with wires attached to it, and a white powder, according to sources in the US.
The cargo was removed from an American-registered plane that arrived from Yemen and was en route to Chicago via Philadelphia, the Metropolitan Police said.
Direct flights from Yemen to the UK have been suspended after the package was found at East Midlands Airport.
Home Secretary Theresa May said in a statement: "We are urgently considering what steps need to be put in place regarding security of freight originating from Yemen. For security reasons there are currently no direct flights from Yemen to the UK.
She added: "We are working closely with our international colleagues and will continue to do so. At this stage there is nothing to suggest that any location in the UK was being targeted."