Mardi Gra hunt has cost pounds 1m

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The Independent Online
SCOTLAND YARD has spent more than pounds 1m hunting the Mardi Gra bomber, who struck for the 33rd time on Wednesday when a package exploded firing shotgun pellets into a teenager's leg.

A psychologist has provided the police with an "offender profile" of the extortionist in an attempt to obtain clues into his character and motivation. Detectives hope the use of a profiler, made famous by the Cracker television series, will help open up new lines of inquiry. There is also speculation that the police may be trying set up a dialogue with the offender, possibly through personal adverts in a newspaper.

The vast amount of money being spent by the Metropolitan Police on trying to uncover the self-styled Mardi Gra terrorist shows the growing concern that someone could be seriously maimed or killed by one of his home-made explosive devices.

The danger was illustrated in the most recent incident on Wednesday night in which a device containing a shotgun cartridge exploded outside a Sainsbury's store in Forest Hill, south-east London, injuring a 17-year-old youth.

Last month, the same store was targeted when a motorist suffered shock after a small device, hidden in a plastic bag he had found near the supermarket, exploded in his car.

The 17-year-old suffered wounds to his leg, although the injuries were not serious. A spokeswoman for Scotland Yard said: "Officers have examined the device and by the way it is constructed can confirm it is the work of the Mardi Gra bomber."

A senior Scotland Yard source confirmed that more than pounds 1m had been spent on the investigation so far and that an offender profile had been obtained. He said: "Profiling can give us a range of options and a range of motivations."

He added: "[This is] a person who is sophisticated enough to put together the devices and has evaded detection for many months. Although no one has been killed so far, that's more by luck than design."

Profiling has had mixed success, although usually it can only provide extra clues rather than unveiling the name of the criminal.

The Mardi Gra bomber is clearly very skillful at leaving few clues. This has lead to speculation that he - or at an outside chance, she - is a former or serving police officer, or member of the security services.

The bomber began in 1994 and first targeted Barclays Bank and moved to Sainsbury's in 1996. It is believed he has already struck three times this year. The second most recent attack was on 12 February near the Forest Hill store. The motorist involved threw the bag out of his car in shock after it exploded. He had picked it up after he saw it unattended near the store. A week earlier, a device exploded at a bus stop near a Sainsbury's in Ealing. No one was hurt.

Anyone with information should call the police confidential hotline on 0800 789321.