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ANNAPOLIS -- A bomb threat yesterday forced the Naval Academy to evacuate four buildings, postpone classes and move a speech by the Navy's top officer as part of a conference.

The threat came in a fax at about 9: 30 a.m. to the Joint Spectrum Center at the Naval Station Annapolis, which is located across the Severn River from the Naval Academy.

Marine guards with M-16 machine guns and body armor secured the area around the four buildings mentioned in the threat: Bancroft Hall, Nimitz Library, Rickover Hall and Alumni Hall. Police searched, but found no bombs and let people return by 11: 15 a.m.

It was believed to be the first bomb threat at the academy in at least three years, said Elizabeth Mayfield, a spokeswoman for the school.

Officials refused to reveal the exact contents of the fax or who they think might have sent it.

"It would be inappropriate to provide the name of the group making the threat," read a news release from Mayfield. "That information has been provided to federal authorities as part of an ongoing investigation."

The Navy's chief of operations, Admiral Jay Johnson, as well as former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, were among hundreds of people attending a conference on the academy's campus sponsored by the Naval Institute.

A speech Johnson was to give in Alumni Hall had to be moved to Mahan Hall because of the threat, and some conference participants had to be evacuated from Alumni Hall, officials said.

After police searched the buildings, the conference went on as planned.

Pub Date: 4/24/97

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