Atlanta steps up security as key date looms
Oklahoma bombing, Waco fire were April 19
ATLANTA (CNN) -- As the April 19 anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing and the Waco fire approaches, law enforcement officials in Atlanta are bracing for possible violence that could involve militia members.
Authorities discussed concerns with CNN Saturday about a letter sent in February that claims responsibility for Atlanta bombings earlier this year at a clinic that performs abortions and a lesbian nightclub. No arrests have been made in either incident.
The letter, which refers to militia groups, has prompted authorities to make plans for increased security. The 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City killed 168 people; the 1993 fire at Waco killed more than 80 members of the Branch Davidian cult, following a lengthy standoff with federal agents. Both events occurred April 19.
Federal officials are especially concerned that another bombing may occur in Atlanta, Bobby Browning, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms told CNN Saturday.
In February, a bomb exploded at the nightclub in midtown Atlanta. A month earlier, two devices went off at the family planning clinic. And authorities are still probing the July 1996 bombing at Centennial Olympic Park that killed one woman. A Turkish camerman suffered a fatal heart attack as he rushed to cover the blast.
The ATF is asking law enforcement officials and federal agencies to be especially attentive to security. Law enforcement officials will also be on heightened alert during the mid-April weekend gathering in Atlanta of black college students, known as "Freaknik."
"We're asking employees to be on the lookout," Browning said. "We're sharing ideas on what to look for. We've also set up a response protocol, should something occur."
Two Atlanta television stations received the letter in February. It says: "The bombings in Sandy Springs and Midtown (two Atlanta neighborhoods) were carried out by units of 'The Army of God.'" The letter then describes what was allegedly used to make the explosive devices.
The letter also warns, "The next facility targeted may not be empty."
ATF investigators do not know if the claim of responsibility is authentic, but they are taking the letter seriously.
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