Bomb planted at station causes chaos in London

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The Independent Online

Dissident Irish republicans were blamed last night for planting a bomb at a London railway station that brought travel chaos to a capital already disrupted by the Queen Mother's centenary pageant.

Dissident Irish republicans were blamed last night for planting a bomb at a London railway station that brought travel chaos to a capital already disrupted by the Queen Mother's centenary pageant.

The device was left on a railway line close to Ealing Broadway station in west London, where it was spotted just before the morning rush hour yesterday. Police shut the station and carried out a controlled explosion.

The alert later spread to central London with Victoria and Westminster stations shut hours before crowds were due to start arriving for last night's pageant. A second suspect package was seen in Whitehall and destroyed in another controlled explosion.

Police revealed that, while the second package was nothing more than an unattended bag, the device at Ealing had been "viable", containing about half a kilogram of high explosives, possibly Semtex.

In the Commons yesterday, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Mandelson, said he believed the bomb had been the work of dissident Irish republicans.

While no organisation had said it planted the bomb, calls made from Dublin early yesterday morning to a number of organisations had used a codeword previously used by the Real IRA - the group that bombed the town of Omagh in August 1998, killing 29 people.

Mr Mandelson said: "The main paramilitary groups are maintaining their ceasefires. There remains though a threat from dissident paramilitaries who are opposed to the Good Friday Agreement."

Tony Thompson, a superintendent from the British Transport Police, said the Ealing device had been deliberately left on the tracks and was discovered where police were told it would be. Nearby houses were evacuated until after the controlled explosion.

The alert brought chaos for tens of thousands of rail travellers as commuter trains and services to and from the west of England, South Wales and the Heathrow Express - which also travels through Ealing Broadway - were affected.

Victoria and Paddington mainline stations were closed for most of the day and Waterloo for a short time. Tube stations at Ealing Broadway, Westminster, Acton Central and Victoria were also closed.

Police had been concerned about further attacks from Irish terrorists since Hammersmith Bridge was damaged by a device planted by the Real IRA last month. The codeword used yesterday was also associated with a bomb planted at the end of last month on the main Belfast to Dublin railway line in Co Armagh a few miles from the border town of Newry.

Gerry Kelly, a leading Sinn Fein member, said the bombwas the work of those opposed to the Good Friday Agreement and there was a need to show that "politics works".

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