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Unattended box triggers bomb scare at Minnesota airport

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - A Minnesota airport terminal was partially cleared for two hours on Friday after a passenger left a box containing a fuel tank unattended when it was refused clearance as checked baggage by security officials, an airport spokesman said.

Authorities cleared the Terminal 2 ticketing lobby at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, closed an access road and delayed a dozen flights, as a police bomb squad investigated the box, airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said.

The Southwest Airlines passenger, a woman, went to the ticket counter in the terminal at about 6:00 a.m. Central Time (1200 GMT) and tried to check in the box which had pipes attached, Hogan said.

"Rather than take it back to her car, she simply abandoned it in the ticketing lobby next to a travel express store and she went through security herself without the package and boarded a plane," Hogan said.

Police removed her from the airplane and were questioning her, Hogan said. The terminal reopened after the bomb squad determined that the approximately 2 foot by 2 foot box did not contain an explosive device.

Authorities had not yet released the identity of the passenger. Hogan did not know if there was propane in the tank.

"Be cognizant of what you bring to an airport and try to take onto a plane," Hogan said. "There are certain devices that are simply not allowed."

Hogan said there could be delays for much of the morning Friday at the terminal, which is the smaller of two at the airport and handles flights by Southwest Airlines, AirTran Airways, Sun Country and Spirit Airlines.

Terminal 1 was not affected.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Scott Malone and Bernadette Baum)

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