Police foil animal activists' attempt to bomb cat farm

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The Independent Online

Police have thwarted a suspected terror campaign by animal rights activists after the discovery of eight home-made bombs. Forensic experts were last night still carrying out tests on the devices, discovered in woodland near the site of a farm that formerly bred laboratory cats.

Police have thwarted a suspected terror campaign by animal rights activists after the discovery of eight home-made bombs. Forensic experts were last night still carrying out tests on the devices, discovered in woodland near the site of a farm that formerly bred laboratory cats.

Suspicion immediately fell on the Animal Liberation Front, which has been blamed for a spate of violent attacks on meat factories, transportation companies, and animal laboratories.

Although the bombs - clear plastic water bottles with 6lbs of brass nuts packed into the bottom - were home-made, Thames Valley Police described them as sophisticated devices, designed to maim or kill. According to the police they could be operated by remote control and featured a form of "anti-handling" mechanism.

Det Supt John Donlon from the Thames Valley force said: "These devices are, in the opinion of our experts, extremely sophisticated and extremely dangerous.

"They would appear to be designed to be victim activated. We want to make the public aware of how dangerous these devices are. If a device of this nature was activated it would certainly maim, if not kill."

The cache was discovered by a passer-by's dog at Eynsham Hall, near Witney, Oxfordshire. This is near Hill Grove Farm which was a focal point for animal rights protests as for three decades it bred cats for scientific experiments. But it closed down in August last year.

The violent tactics of animal rights protestors have resulted in several attacks, some causing serious injury.

* In May, one bomb exploded and a further nine were defused at a meat processing plant in Oxfordshire.

* Last year there were six reported bomb attacks linked to animal rights groups, including the bombing of a meat lorry at a storage depot in Exeter, Devon.

* During 1991 and 1992, the ALF firebombed more than 100 lorries across the country in a campaign against the meat industry.

Yesterday's find is a few miles from Home Secretary Jack Straw's home in Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire, and is also near the home of former Conservative Northern Ireland Secretary Douglas Hurd, who used to be the MP for the constituency.

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