updated 1/25/2006 11:15:40 AM ET 2006-01-25T16:15:40

The Army stepped up security at an arsenal where chemical weapons are stored after three people entered a restricted zone, officials said Wednesday.

The security measures were taken as a precaution at the Pine Bluff Arsenal after the intrusion at a forested federal preserve 30 miles south of Little Rock. Officials didn’t know what the three people were doing there, spokeswoman Cheryl Avery said.

“We are still assessing the situation,” Avery said. She wouldn’t say when the people entered the property or if they had left.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management was notified of the intrusion but was given no indication of the seriousness of the incident, said spokeswoman Kathy Hedrick. Guards at the arsenal’s gates were giving careful inspections to vehicles leaving the facility Wednesday morning.

Other than the enhanced security, operations were continuing as normal, officials said.

The Pine Bluff Arsenal stores 12 percent of the military’s chemical weapons, which include nerve gas and mustard gas. It is the nation’s second largest stockpile. The materials are being incinerated, and officials have said that will take about five years to complete.

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