March 13, 1999
ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (CNN) -- An explosive device went off Saturday outside a women's clinic in North Carolina, causing no injuries and little damage because it only partially detonated.
The bomb was placed in a duffel bag outside the Femcare clinic next to a wall near the waiting room, said the Asheville Police Department. It went off about 30 minutes before the clinic was to open at 8 a.m.
"It appeared to be a very large device," Police Chief Will Annarino said. "I really can't get into how large it is right now. But it appears it could have caused a lot of damage."
Femcare was one of several clinics nationwide that received packages last month said to contain the potentially deadly bacterium anthrax. Nothing was found inside those packages.
Authorities evacuated homes and businesses nearby and cordoned off the road around the clinic.
An FBI spokeswoman said the agency had not ruled out any possible leads, but police have downplayed a possible connection between the Asheville bombing and either the anthrax threat or Eric Robert Rudolph, a suspect in a deadly 1998 women's clinic bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.
The explosion occurred near the scene of an ongoing manhunt for the fugitive.
Because the device exploded before the clinic opened, "the intent may have been not to hurt anyone. Rudolph's intent was to hurt," said Earl Woodham, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The type of explosive device was also different from the one used in Birmingham, he said.
FBI and Asheville bomb teams disarmed what was left of the detonated device early Saturday afternoon, the FBI said. Authorities plan to have a laboratory examine the components and compare them with other explosive devices.
Preliminary reports suggesting the presence of a second bomb turned out to be incorrect, said Woodham. A "suspicious-looking package" was found at the clinic, but it was shot with a water cannon and did not detonate, he said.
Rudolph is believed to have sought refuge in the mountains of western North Carolina shortly after a bomb killed an off-duty policeman and severely wounded a nurse in Birmingham on January 29, 1998.
Since then, he has been charged in that bombing and in three Atlanta attacks, including the 1996 Olympic Park bombing that killed one person.
President Clinton labeled Saturday's blast "senseless violence." He said in a statement he was "deeply disturbed" by the explosion and was "confident the perpetrators of this terrible act will be brought to justice."
Southeast Bureau Chief Graylian Young contributed to this report.
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