Nine Japanese companies, including drugmakers and a newspaper, have received blackmail letters containing white powder suspected to be cyanide, police and local media said Sunday.
The letters were sent under the names of executed members of the Aum Shinrikyo -- the Japanese doomsday cult behind the deadly 1995 sarin gas attack in Tokyo -- and demanded 35 million won ($31,000) in bitcoins, a police spokesman told AFP.
"Major pharmaceutical and other companies... received envelopes with threatening letters and a powdery substance" suspected to be cyanide, he said, without identifying the companies.
"I will make fake medicine containing potassium cyanide and distribute it," the letter said, according to the spokesman, and warned "a tragedy will happen" if the money was not transferred by February 22.
Local media said the names on the letters -- which were received on Friday -- included Shoko Asahara, the charismatic leader of the sect who was executed with 12 of his one-time followers in July last year.
The white powdery substance was later confirmed to be cyanide, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported, adding that an similar envelope was also sent to the Tokyo headquarters of the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.
Similar threatening letters were sent to some pharmaceutical companies in Osaka in January last year, Jiji Press reported.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.