Juppe bomb protest

The bomb which devastated part of Bordeaux's town hall late on Saturday evening is being seen as a protest attack against French Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, who is also mayor of the city.

An incendiary device placed on the steps which lead from the 18th-century building's Salon of Honour, where Mr Juppe receives guests, exploded at 11.45pm, only a few hours after his departure for Paris.

Mr Juppe had spent much of Friday and Saturday in Bordeaux in meetings. The powerful explosion ripped out windows of the first three floors of the town hall as well as those of neighbouring houses.

The bomb claimed no victims, but it caused extensive damage to the Salon of Honour, where the gala dinner of the next Franco-British summit, planned for 7-8 November, between John Major and the French President Jacques Chirac was to be held.

Mr Juppe, who returned to Bordeaux yesterday morning to inspect the damage, expressed his "indignation" at the attack and called a meeting with his justice and interior ministers for later today.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and no advance warning was given.