2 explosions jolt northern England; no one injured
Officials blame IRA
April 18, 1997
Web posted at: 8:57 a.m. EDT (1257 GMT)
LONDON (CNN) -- Two small explosions and a series of
suspected IRA bomb threats disrupted road and rail traffic
throughout northern England's morning rush hour Friday. There were no injuries.
The explosions jolted railway stations in Doncaster and
Staffordshire police said they carried out two controlled
explosions at Stoke-on-Trent railway station, about 65 miles south of Leeds. The first was to open the station door and the second to destroy a suspect package stuffed in the corner of a pedestrian underpass between two platforms, said Inspector Tony Ellis.
No group claimed immediate responsibility for the blasts. But British Prime Minister John Major opposition Labour Party leader Tony Blair blamed the Irish Republican Army, accusing the outlawed group of trying to disrupt May 1 elections.
"This looks very much at the moment as if this is the work of
the IRA, showing their usual contempt for people's lives and
property," Major said.
|British Prime Minister John Major
"...the IRA are still determined to use
violence here on the mainland in Britain."
(349K/30 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
" A vote for Sinn Fein is a vote for the IRA."
(374K/31 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Blair, whose party has a 20-point lead in opinion polls,
said, "They're quite plainly an attempt to disrupt the
election and the election campaign and they will not
Caller phoned in bomb threats
The first explosion took place in a cabinet containing
signaling equipment at Leeds railway station, according to
Railtrack, the operator of Britain's privatized railways.
Many trains had been diverted there because there had been no bomb threats phoned in there.
"The whole building shuddered. I knew it was a bomb
immediately," said Leeds station cleaning supervisor Steven
Police immediately evacuated the station after the explosion and sealed off a large part of the city's downtown.
The second device exploded shortly afterward near North
Bridge in Doncaster, close to the railway station, South
Yorkshire police said.
Police said rail stations in Stoke, Doncaster and Crewe were
closed early Friday after a caller phoned in bomb threats.
They said the caller gave a code word known to be used by the
The main M-6 motorway was closed near Staffordshire and also
near Manchester, Britain's second-largest city.
After the explosions and bomb threats, gridlock gripped the
region, disrupting the main north-south rail lines in Britain
on both the east and west coasts. Traffic on the M-6 was
backed up for miles. Police and rail officials urged
travelers to stay home.
IRA bomb campaigns
Earlier this month, the IRA claimed responsibility for a bomb
hoax that delayed the running of the Grand National
steeplechase, Britain's premiere horse race. The group was
also blamed for two bombs found under the M-6 on April 3 in
The IRA, which is battling to end Britain's rule of Northern
Ireland, also claimed responsibility for two explosions last
month that went off near Wilmslow railway station in
Reuters contributed to this report.
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