Metro terror shocks France

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France was facing the prospect last night of a protracted urban terror campaign, after the eighth bomb blast in a wave of attacks by Algerian Islamic fundamentalists. The bomb tore through an underground commuter train as it sped through central Paris in the morning rush hour, injuring 29 people.

Speaking in the National Assembly yesterday afternoon, the French Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, said that a meeting planned between President Jacques Chirac and the Algerian president, Liamine Zeroual, in New York was for France to "express its point of view". It did not, he said, "imply support for one or another candidate" in Algeria's coming presidential elections. A grave Mr Juppe said that France would "not allow itself to be intimidated" and would "not capitulate in the face of barbarism".

Mr Chirac, who cut short an engagement in Tours to visit some of the injured in hospital, expressed his horror at the latest attack and condemned those who "resort to fanaticism".

The device exploded on a suburban train close to the foreign ministry at the Quai d'Orsay, blowing the feet and legs off some of the victims. A police spokesman said it was a miracle more people were not hurt. After the blast, hundreds of passengers had to walk through a smoke-filled tunnel to safety.

Well-rehearsed emergency procedures had doctors and firefighters at the scene within minutes. A field hospital was set up at Quai d'Orsay station, where at least one person had a limb amputated.

"We're all a little bit traumatised right now. It's happened too many times," said one commuter. "There's a psychosis among the population."

Fear grips Paris, page 11

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