Senior ministers have been put on high alert for murderous follow-up attacks this weekend by members of the Real IRA, the group behind the Ealing Broadway bombing.
Security chiefs told ministers at a Downing Street briefing that the Real IRA had changed tactics and clearly intended to kill members of the public in the bombing. Security around ministers has been tightened.
The terrorist team that carried out the London car bombing used a code word that had been used in earlier hoax calls, The Independent on Sunday has learnt.
The fertiliser-based device was concealed in a grey Saab. Heavy rain may have helped to reduce the number of people injured by the blast.
Security and intelligence chiefs briefed the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who has taken over day-to-day running of the Government while Tony Blair is on leave, and the duty Home Office minister, Beverley Hughes.
They informed Mr Blair in Mexico as soon as the bomb went off. Ministers considered visiting the site, but rejected the idea to avoid giving the terrorists more publicity for their activities. For the same reason, Downing Street said last night it was not making any further comment on the attack.