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Why Senator Lugar is worried about bioterrorism in East Africa

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There, he said in an interview with the Monitor, “We saw the production of biological weapons, we saw how pathogens were developed into ways that could kill tens of millions of people.”

Why East Africa has become a focus

East Africa was high on the list for the post-Soviet focus of the Nunn-Lugar Program “because of the nexus between active terrorist groups, ungoverned spaces, and human and animal health laboratories working on endemic diseases, some of which are rare and exotic," said Andy Weber, assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs, who was part of the US delegation that visited Uganda and Burundi en route to Kenya.

“We want to make sure that the pathogens that could be used by used terrorists are better secured and that there’s an enhanced capability to monitor infectious disease outbreaks,” added Mr. Weber.

But scientists caution that medical laboratories aren't the only sources of raw material for potential bioterrorists.

These diseases are already prevalent in the region – that’s why they are being studied, points out Gigi Kwik Gronvall, senior associate at the UPMC Centre for Biosecurity in Pittsburgh, Pa.

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