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Hunt on for Real IRA bombers

Police forensic experts hunt for clues in the wreckage of the bomb blast  

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Police are seeking a pockmarked man in the hunt for the Irish dissident unit suspected of planting a London car bomb that injured seven.

They believe he is a member of the Irish republican group, the Real IRA, believed to be behind Friday's bombing and several other blasts.

Detectives are also examining blue plastic from a barrel-like container said to be similar to that used to transport the BBC television centre bomb in March and other bombs in Northern Ireland.

London's Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner David Veness described the attack as a "callous, potentially murderous crime committed with total disregard for the safety of potential victims".

He said the explosion, which went off close to busy pubs shortly after midnight in the west London suburb of Ealing, was "reckless in the extreme".

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The car bomb was planted in a busy street in an area full of bars and clubs near Ealing Broadway underground railway station.

Seven people were taken to hospital for treatment. A spokeswoman for Ealing hospital said two of those injured suffered head injuries. Five remained in the hospital overnight, and two were treated and released.

Alan Fry, head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch, said "This was a calculated, evil act by people who were seeking to maim and kill. We are extremely fortunate that people were not killed here last night."

He appealed for assistance in tracing the man who bought the grey Saab 9000 vehicle used in the blast two weeks earlier.

The suspect was described as a clean-shaven white man, five foot ten to eleven inches tall, of a trim build and in his mid-thirties with blond straight mousy hair. He spoke with a Northern Ireland accent and has a pitted face.

Police also described how they were given just 27 minutes to locate and deal with the bomb, which contained at least 40 kg (88 lb) of home-made explosive.

They said the warning they received gave the name of a road that does not exist.

"The task of police was made much more difficult if not impossible by the failure to give a precise location, indeed to give a wrong location," Fry said.

Police cordoned off the area amid concerns that a second device might have been left nearby. Fry said there had been substantial damage over a wide area. The car was destroyed.

Investigations into a series of other recent attacks in the British capital blamed on the Real IRA have produced no arrests.

The scene remains cordoned off
The scene remains cordoned off  

The Provisional IRA is observing a cease-fire as part of a peace process after 30 years of strife between the republican and nationalist communities of Northern Ireland.

But splinter groups such as the Real IRA oppose the 1998 Good Friday peace deal.

This week, rival parties in Northern Ireland have been studying a new "take it or leave it" proposal from Britain and Ireland that would cut troop numbers but requires the IRA to disarm.

The Real IRA's most notorious act was the Omagh bombing in 1998 in which 29 civilians were killed, the single worst atrocity in Northern Ireland's three decades of conflict.

The Real IRA split from the IRA to oppose its strategy of backing the participation of Sinn Fein -- a republican political party with close links to the provisionals -- in Northern Ireland's peace process.

• Metropolitan Police

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