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UK on race-hate bombs alert

NEO-NAZI bombers are likely to strike at black, Asian and Jewish communities across Britain, police warned yesterday as investigations continued into Saturday's bomb attack in Brick Lane, east London.

Senior Scotland Yard officers revealed that police forces throughout the country were liaising to protect ethnic minority and Jewish areas after the second attack in London in eight days. Seven people were injured in the Brick Lane attack, which followed a bomb in Brixton a week earlier that wounded 39 people. A number of far right-wing organisations have claimed responsibility. The bombs were similarly constructed with timing devices and police believe the same group is responsible.

It has emerged that one of the groups claiming responsibility, the White Wolves, sent death threats to a number of black, Asian and Jewish organisations several days before the Brixton bombing. Among those threatened were the black Labour MP Oona King, whose constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow covers Brick Lane, and the Asian newspaper Eastern Eye.

The group has published a pamphlet explaining how to manufacture bombs, and advocated attacks on ethnic minority targets to provoke a "race war". The neo-Nazi group Combat 18 has also claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Tony Blair and William Hague expressed their deep concern at the attacks and the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, promised that "full resources" would be used to catch these "extremely evil criminals".

Assistant Commissioner David Veness, of the Metropolitan Police, said he had already held emergency talks about the bombings with colleagues in the Association of Chief Police Officers about the possibility of further attacks outside London. He said yesterday: "We feared that the crime that occurred last Saturday [at Brixton] would be repeated and tragically it has. We cannot rule out that other attacks might take place to places which have the same characteristics as Brixton and Brick Lane." He said "defensive responses" had been prepared.

Areas where security is being tightened include Southall in west London, Golders Green in north London, Bradford in West Yorkshire, the St Paul's area of Bristol, and Moss Side in Manchester. Police are concentrating their inquiries on known right-wing extremist groups and are working with Interpol.

The Brick Lane bomb, contained in a black Reebok sports bag, was left on the pavement at Hanbury Street, near its junction with Brick Lane. It was identified as suspicious by a passer-by who placed it in the boot of his car where it blew up, setting on fire another car and a restaurant and shattering windows.

The man who picked up the bag was among those injured. He has been interviewed by police.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, said combating the attacks was the "major priority" for his force at present.

"These bombs were clearly designed to maim, kill and injure innocent people going about their daily lives. We are not closing down any avenues of investigation," he said.

Some Bangladeshis with businesses in Brick Lane and local officials have received threats since the Brixton bombing saying "they would be next".

Some people have complained that the police response to the threats had been inadequate. Scotland Yard said extra officers had been on duty in all areas deemed vulnerable since the bombing in Brixton.

Bomb carnage, page 4

Donald Macintyre, Leading article, Review, page 3