Incendiary devices left in city-centre shops

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POLICE in Oxford are studying film from shop security cameras in an attempt to identify the firebombers who attacked city centre stores early yesterday.

Two incendiary devices ignited - one causing thousands of pounds of damage - in the attacks, which temporarily paralysed the centre of Oxford. Three more devices were made safe. There were no injuries.

All the shops were connected with the fur, leather or wool trade and police believe it was the work of animal rights activists.

C H Brown & Son, a saddlers in the city's covered market, was set ablaze by a device that activated a sprinkler system and led to extensive flooding of a ground-floor leather workshop. Part of the city centre was cordoned off and an extensive search involving shop staff and police was launched.

Three devices were made safe at the Nurse furriers in Magdalen Street, Madison's leather shop in High Street, and West World in Cornmarket. Later, staff at the Edinburgh wool shop in High Street raised the alarm after seeing smoke, but the device failed to ignite properly.

After police experts had completed their search for clues, the shops resumed trading and the city centre returned to normal.

The firebombs follow three similar attacks in Cambridge several weeks ago by the Animal Rights Militia. A spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front said: 'The Animal Rights Militia claimed responsibility for the Cambridge attacks and said it was the beginning of a campaign in towns and cities across England against all forms of animal abuse. This could be the second wave.'