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UK on pre-poll bomb alert

Sunday's blast came six weeks after a bomb attack on the BBC's London headquarters (above)
Sunday's blast came six weeks after a bomb attack on the BBC's London headquarters (above)  

LONDON, England -- Britain has been put on alert for a possible bombing campaign in the run-up to the general election.

Scotland Yard issued a warning on Sunday, hours after a device exploded in at a mail sorting office, in London.

The blast came three weeks after a similar attack on the same target and six weeks after a bomb blast rocked BBC Television Centre in London.

Scotland Yard Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alan Fry said the threat of a terrorist campaign during the election -- expected to be called later this week and held next month -- was "a major challenge" and vowed to do all possible to protect politicians and the public.

Speaking at the scene of the blast in Hendon, north London, Fry said : "We have seen sustained activity in election campaigns both in 1997 and 1992.

"We take note of that and we will be doing everything possible to secure the safety of those taking part in the election and the general public."

Northern Ireland's First Minister David Trimble said he feared there could be similar attacks during the general election campaign.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: "The bomb in Hendon, small though it may have been, was potentially lethal and I am glad it has not caused any serious injury or fatality.

"Regrettably, there are those republicans who think that the election gives them an opportunity and I fear that we may expect other such incidents during the election."

One person was slightly hurt when the suspected Real IRA device rocked the post office sorting depot at 01:40 a.m. (12:40 GMT) on Sunday.

The bomb was placed at exactly the same spot on the pavement where a similar device was detonated three weeks ago, police said.

Police sealed off the area around the depot and firefighters and ambulance crews were called to the scene.

The blast, believed to be the work of the dissident republican group the Real IRA, could be linked to the death of hunger striker Bobby Sands, who died 20 years ago on Saturday.

One passer-by suffered minor injuries, but refused hospital treatment, police said.

The blast blew out windows at the office, but otherwise there was only minor damage, Scotland Yard said.

The device contained between half and one pound of high explosives and was a similar size to the one at Hammersmith Bridge in June last year.



RELATED STORIES:
Police warn of UK bomb threat
May 6, 2001
Real IRA blamed for London blast
April 15, 2001
IRA meets arms commission
March 14, 2001
UK: Bomb aimed at peace process
March 5, 2001
Real IRA blamed for BBC blast
March 4, 2001
One injured in UK explosion
February 21, 2001

RELATED SITES:
The Metropolitan Police Service
Royal Mail
British Government
The Northern Ireland Assembly

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