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Similarities mount in Atlanta bombings

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Two groups claim responsibility for attack

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February 24, 1997
Web posted at: 9:21 p.m. EST (0221 GMT)

ATLANTA (CNN) -- There are "very strong" indications of a link between a weekend bombing at a gay nightclub and two January 16 bombings outside an Atlanta-area clinic where abortions are performed, law enforcement sources said Monday.

Meanwhile, two different groups have apparently claimed responsibility for the bombing.

In referring to the link between the two bombs, sources cited similarities between the two bombings that a copycat couldn't have known about.

"There are a few characteristics (of the clinic bombings) that have not yet been reported publicly," one source said. He would not elaborate.

"There are some similarities to the Olympic bombing, but not as many," the source added. The July 27 blast at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta killed a woman and injured more than 100 other people.

Letter threatens 'total war'

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Earlier FBI spokesman Jay Spadafore cautioned, however, that authorities have not yet concluded that the same individual or individuals committed both bombings.

"Two weeks from now, we might have a much better idea if these bombs are made by the same person," Spadafore said Sunday. "More clues are left behind each time a device is discovered or detonated."

Meanwhile, the FBI received a letter Monday claiming responsibility for both the abortion clinic bombings in Atlanta last month and Friday's bombing at a gay and lesbian nightclub.

The letter, purportedly from a group called the Army of God, was mailed to the Reuters news agency Saturday and was turned over to the FBI on Monday.

The letter threatened "total war" against the federal government, said abortion would not be tolerated and promised future attacks on homosexuals. It also sought to set up a system so that claims of responsibility could be confirmed after future bombings, Reuters reported.

"We're taking it seriously. We're looking into the validity of the letter and the claims that they're making," said Pamela Swanson, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The Army of God has produced an underground manual that describes how to blow up abortion clinics.

Also, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) said the agency is checking out a phone call made to the Gay Yellow Pages Monday from a woman claiming a group called "Sons of the Confederate Klan" was responsible for the nightclub bombing.

The Gay Yellow Pages, a listing of phone numbers for businesses and other activities of interest to gays and lesbians, has an Atlanta phone number but recently moved its home base to Phoenix, Arizona, where calls are automatically transferred, according to a woman who identified herself as Marci Alt.

Alt said she received a call, which she considered a threat, from the woman who described the group as "a new neo-Nazi group in Los Angeles, California."

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An ATF spokesman said the agency itself has received no direct claims of responsibility in any of the three bombing cases. The agency has set up a hot line for tips on the bombings: 1-888-283-2662.

Authorities said the bombs in all three incidents were packed with nails. Black powder was used in the Olympic attack, which involved a pipe bomb, while dynamite was used in the clinic bombings.

Serial bomber a possibility

FBI, ATF, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents Monday continued to search the area of the latest bombing, which occurred at The Otherside nightclub, an establishment with a mostly lesbian clientele. Investigators said they would continue to interview residents in the area and comb the site for more pieces of the device.

Atlanta Police Chief Beverly Harvard said Monday in a broadcast interview authorities are looking at the possibility of a serial bomber or a copycat bomber, but had not reached any conclusions.

Federal agents, fearing a serial bomber may be at work, have begun contacting possible targets of future attacks including Jewish organizations, synagogues and schools in the Atlanta area, including the Southern branch of the Anti-Defamation League, as well as African-American organizations and churches.

Twin bombs in two cases

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Friday's bomb exploded in the rear patio section of the lounge shortly before 10 p.m., injuring five people, one seriously.

Police found a second bomb in a backpack hidden among some bushes in an adjacent parking lot that was detonated harmlessly. The bomb planted at the Olympics was hidden in a backpack.

In the January 16 incident, a bomb went off outside the offices of the Northside Family Planning Services Clinic in Sandy Springs, an Atlanta suburb. A short while later, a second bomb, apparently aimed at law enforcement officers, exploded in a dumpster outside the building.

 
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