Two injured by loyalist shoebox bomb on train: Serious casualties avoided as denonator explodes in station

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The Independent Online
A LOYALIST bomb planted on a crowded Belfast-to-Dublin train yesterday narrowly avoided causing carnage when only the detonator in the device went off.

Garda forensic experts said last night that the shoebox bomb contained two kilos of commercial explosive and could have caused serious casualties. In the event two women passengers suffered only minor leg injuries. Responsibility was claimed by the loyalist UVF, which in May planted another bomb, also made with commercial explosive, in a central Dublin pub. That also failed when only the detonator exploded.

A second UVF statement in Belfast said the bombing was 'a warning to the Dublin government that Northern Ireland is still British and will not be coerced into a united Ireland'.

After yesterday's incident Gardai searched seven other central Dublin buildings where the UVF said bombs had been left. The Irish justice minister, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, said intelligence reports warned of a 'dramatic' increase in the loyalist terrorist threat in the wake of the IRA ceasefire.

'It may well be an attempt to get a retaliation. But . . the republican movement have made a decision to go with the democratic process, and it would appear very strongly that nothing is going to deviate them from that,' she said.

Early indications suggested the device planted under a seat on the Dublin train had been little more than an incendiary, but forensic science examination confirmed that a powerful explosive was used. The blast occurred at 11.34am as the 9am train from Belfast pulled into Connolly Station, Dublin, just as a UVF spokesman was giving a telephone warning to Iarnrod Eireann (Irish Rail).

The train stopped at five stations between Belfast and Newry north of the border, so the bomber could have left the train without entering the Republic.

The explosion happened nine minutes after the train was due to reach its destination, suggesting it might have been planned to detonate after passengers had left the carriages. Gay Mitchell, security spokesman of the opposition Fine Gael party, said he hoped the bomb was simply a 'marker' as the loyalists headed for a ceasefire, indicating they should not be taken for granted. He was referring to suggestions last Friday that loyalists might end their violence if they were satisfied no secret deal had been done to secure the IRA ceasefire, that it was permanent, and would also be observed by the republican INLA.

Gardai had been on alert for a resurgent loyalist terror campaign in the South amid warnings from some Unionist politicians that a secret deal must have underpinned the ceasefire. Dublin and London have denied such claims.

Two members of the Ulster Unionist Party - David Trimble MP, spokesman on legal affairs, and Jeffrey Donaldson, honorary secretary of the party - are expected to visit Washington on 26 and 27 September to discuss progress towards peace in Ireland.

According to Irish government officials in Dublin, Al Gore, the United States Vice-President, informed the Irish Prime Miniser, Albert Reynolds, of the invitation at the weekend. 'The invitation is to show an even-handed approach to all communities,' a spokesman in Dublin said.

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